PA "The Ministry of Defence has yet to prove it has got the necessary grip on procurement to end the "cycle of failure" which has seen long delays and massive overspending on equipment programmes, a parliamentary spending watchdog has warned. The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) told the MoD to provide precise details by the end of April on its forecast for the cost of implementing last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and the status of any programmes being cancelled or renegotiated as part of its money-saving drive. The SDSR decisions to cancel the Nimrod MRA4 and withdraw the Sentinel surveillance aircraft involved the MoD accepting "greater operational risks" and writing off nearly £5 billion of taxpayers' money, said the committee in a new report. "Such decisions are never desirable," said the PAC's Major Projects Report. "The fact that the Department has been pressured to make them offers a compelling argument why it must address the problems which have affected defence procurement for decades and on which our predecessors have commented extensively. "If it does not, the cycle of failure will continue, with badly needed capabilities being delivered later than planned and cost increases crowding other capabilities out of the equipment programme." The committee was responding to an National Audit Office report which found in October that the "black hole" in MoD procurement increased by £3.3 billion in Labour's final year in office alone to reach around £36 billion. It considered decisions in four projects which between them cost the taxpayer more than £8 billion. The SDSR was published days after the NAO report and provided the MoD with an opportunity to re-examine its commitments and make them affordable within the existing budget, said today's PAC report. The Defence Review slashed billions from spending plans by cutting back on warships, fast jet fighters and thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen. The department has already started to renegotiate a large number of contracts. But committee chair Margaret Hodge warned: "In the wake of the Defence Review the MoD still has to spell out whether and how it has got its defence procurement budget under control. The MoD must demonstrate the same discipline in its defence procurement that our forces demonstrate in the field." The MoD has not yet provided cost data to back up its opinion that fitting catapults and arrester wires to the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers to allow them to carry a different type of plane will save money, said the report. The two ships are being built at a cost of £5.2 billion, but as a result of decisions made in the SDSR there will be no planes available for 10 years and one carrier will be mothballed almost immediately."