Radio 4: "Buying Defence"

This programme crept quietly into the post Boxing Day schedules at the end of last year but is still available online and is worth hearing.

Topics covered are:

Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers
Type 45s
The Conspiracy of Optimism
The Ministry of Defence: its skills gap, lack of accountability and resistance to cultural change
Service loyalty and inter-service rivalry
Tornados v Harriers
Politicians and the MoD
Accessing Private Sector Expertise
"Off The Shelf"/"Bar Code" Procurement
Defence Manufacturers' Lobbying
Ambition, Capability and Expenditure

Interviewees are:

Margaret Hodge, MP, Chair, Commons Public Accounts Committee
Tim Banfield, National Audit Office, Defence
John Hutton, formerly SoS Defence
Admiral Lord West, formerly 1SL
Robin Southwell, CEO EADS UK
Andrew Tyler, formerly Chief Operating Officer, DE&S (Defence Equipment and Support)
Peter Luff, formerly Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology
Bernard Gray, Chief of Defence Materiel
John Dowdy, McKinsey, Defence

At the top of the programme, Francis Tusa says that he will be seeking to answer these questions:

1 Why have successive governments found it so hard to get procurement right?
2 Why have so many projects run over time and budget?
3 Can the MoD really balance its books while keeping the Armed Forces properly equipped?

A fair proportion of the programme looks at naval projects in particular.

Defence procurement is, perhaps, a niche interest, but, if hearing more about this often byzantine world appeals to you, you will find something for you in this programme.

BBC Radio 4 - Buying Defence
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