Threat to defence projects if Carrier Strike runs over budget

19 January 2018

Carrier Strike is central to the Government's plans for Britain's future defence. It incorporates two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, new F-35 Lightning II jets and a new radar system—Crowsnest.

Other programmes' futures threatened if Carrier Strike goes over budget

The defence budget is very strained in the light of commitments made in the last Strategic Defence and Security Review. Carrier Strike is expensive, and despite the Department assuring us that it will manage costs, there is a threat to the future of other programmes if it goes over budget.

In addition, there are aspects of Carrier Strike that still need to be fully costed as the three elements come together.

Ministry of Defence must seize opportunities over tech and jobs

For the Department to secure value for money from its significant investment in this long-term capability, it will need to ensure that the carriers and jets can be fully and flexibly used alongside other military equipment, and can be upgraded to keep pace with technological advances.

The Department must also seize opportunities to bring high-tech and skilled jobs to the UK by securing further global support contracts for the Lightning II jets.

Completion of transformation within DE&S is key to ensuring it has the necessary commercial skills and capabilities, and is well placed to win such contracts.

Chair's comments

Comment from Committee Chair, Meg Hillier MP:

"There is a lot at stake with Carrier Strike—a hugely complex, costly programme intended to be at the heart of national defence for years to come.

The project continues to leave the MoD exposed financially. Government must bring Carrier Strike in on budget or risk jeopardising the funds available for other defence programmes.

Uncertainty over some costs and the potentially negative impact of foreign exchange rates mean this will be no easy task.

There are also questions over the Lightning II jets and the eventual deployment of Carrier Strike, which could threaten the programme’s value for money.

All this is taking place as the MoD awaits clarity on the future size of the defence budget.

We will be keeping a close eye on this programme and will expect the Department to keep us abreast of developments."

Further information

Image: Anne-Marie Trevelyan

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