PAC Report criticises MOD over spare parts for helicopters

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by thingy, Oct 13, 2009.

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  1. The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) the Parliamentary watchdog over departmental expenditure, etc, has just produced a report critical of the MOD's inability to provide troops with spares for helicopters in the Mid Eastern theatre.

    As reported in todays Torygraph (12 Oct 2009)

    You can access the PAC's 54th Report:

    Ministry of Defence: Support to High Intensity Operations


    HTML version (searchable):
    PDF version:
  2. Re: PAC Report criticises MOD over spare parts for helicopte

    Thanks thingy, you saved me a search.

    Part 1.

    Para 4. “The nature of the Urgent Operational Requirements process minimises all the phases of standard procurement in order to deliver capability quickly to the Armed Forces deployed on operations. If an equipment is urgently required in theatre, the Department has to balance the decision to deploy it as quickly as possible and derive benefit from it (but with the risk of problems of spares and limited availability for training purposes), or instead hold it back to produce a complete support solution and suffer the operational risk that this delay may cause.†Sums up well the inevitable balancing act that is always going to bite someone in the a**e.

    Para 5. “There are shortages of spare parts for both Merlin and Apache helicopters. The initial procurements of spares are still being delivered from industry and as a consequence there are some key components in short supply.†We can only buy what the manufacturer has the capacity to produce. What we don’t see is the probable Commitment/Payment profile that is limited by the responsible IPT’s budget. UORs will not fund that as it’s “core businessâ€.

    Part 2.

    Para 10; “Measures being taken to improve the effectiveness of supply include reviewing stock held in different locations in Afghanistan and action to increase the proportion of materiel tracked while in transit.†As I recall it, forward positioned stock was written out of the planning because it was “stock value intensive†and uneconomical in terms or Resource Accounting Budgets..

    Para 11; “The Department still does not have in-theatre asset-tracking or inventory management systems to enable it to maintain proper track of all equipment and assets whilst the Armed Forces are deployed overseas. This means that they still rely on manual systems to back up the limited logistic information systems that existâ€. How unfortunate that OASIS isn’t “usable†by the Army. How unfortunate that the new clever system that meets most Army needs is slowly degrading the Navy one that meets nearly all Navy needs

    Para 13; “Consumption of fuel had outstripped demandâ€. It is always irritating when an authoritative document is written in such an idiotic manner. When “padded outâ€, it starts to make sense (nearly); “the rate of consumption was at times 100% higher than that provisioned forâ€. “The Department was forced to enact contingency plans to maintain supplies.â€: no s**t. as they say. I think Erwin Rommel would sympathise with that. I don’t believe the ability to buy the fuel in sufficient quantities is the problem. The problem is the ability to move it through a hostile, terr infested environment and the expensive answer is to have more tankers with a corresponding protection force.

    The overall message is that the Support Chain (of which the Supply Chain is part) is being run on the cheap (and is still epensive) and suffering from years of “plan for peaceâ€.
  3. Re: PAC Report criticises MOD over spare parts for helicopte

    POL - glad you placed the last para - saved me having to write it. And with the treasury placing a cap on UORs this year, with any overspend coming out the Department Expenditure Limit the rest of the Armed Forces - read non deployable bits such as Ships - will pick up the tab. I think the limit was set at some £700M and we are certain to overspend. So much for a Government commitment to the campaign!!
  4. This isn't just helicopters, the onboard spares for ships is so low that even normal maintenance cannot be carried out.

    Although this is critical of the MoD, they can only purchase within the confines of the budget they are given, if government will not give them the money, then they are being used as scapegoats.

    The whole services spares needs looking at.
  5. Spares have always been a pain: when I was on CONQUEROR in Faslane in the early 70s, they had SORT - Stores Overhaul Revision Team: they went through each machine, examined the spares for it, and if a packing seal could made from packing material rather then the designated seal, reduce the allowance for it. IIRC, there were about 800 of these damned forms to plow through. Once they were done, calculate how many of each bit you actually needed, taking into account the packing materials or whatever you were supposed to carry, reduce the allowance by the appropriate amount, recalculate your onboard holdings. So when this is all done, we get the go ahead to land all the surplus spares. Duly done, 3 months later, a fudging great chacon of kit arrives alongside - reload all the stuff you landed, it was only a paper exercise. Oh deep joy, my cup nearly ran over, but I was to busy swearing at the anoymous inventor of this pointless exercise to drink it !!!!!!
  6. Re: PAC Report criticises MOD over spare parts for helicopte

    Not strictly true. For the past 2 years I have been working in a team that is constantly managing from day-to-day the limited Merlin spares available, robbing Peter to pay Paul to keep the Fleet flying. As soon as one aircraft is taken down for maintenance it's like vultures over a carcass. This is not because we can only buy what the manufacturer can produce.

    Firstly, we maintain Merlin like a Sea King and it was never designed as such and was never provisioned for spares as such. From Day 1, Merlin has been short of spares and this has been the case for the 10 years it has been in service.

    Secondly, there have been a series of faults with the aircraft that have meant big changes in maintenance policy, as a result we replace key components more frequently than was designed. This has compounded the issue of spares shortage

    Thirdly, and this is important, the manufacturer is making plenty of spares. But MoD can't afford them and from a commercial perspective, as a customer we are no longer the big player in the market that we used to be. There are plenty of other customers who can afford the spares and are willing to pay through the nose for them.
  7. You are, of course, right. I should have added; “at the price DE&S is able to payâ€. A manufacturer’s capacity can increase but it adds to the overhead that the customer has to pay for. That element does still boil down, though, to running the Support Chain on the cheap.

    That is a very good point about the ranging and scaling of support stores being based on an over optimistic/unexpected failure rate. With the best of intentions, an age old problem that regularly afflicts all manufacturers.
  8. Reminds me of the situation, under the notorious Ten Year Rule, pursued first by Prime Minister MacDonald in his coalition with the Conservatives and then by Baldwin and Chamberlain.
  9. Re: PAC Report criticises MOD over spare parts for helicopte

    Just when we are all clear who’s fault it is that there’s insufficient kit, up pops Professor Brainthesizeofaplanet!


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