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RUSI: "Key defence questions to be addressed in the SDSR"


War Hero
Hmmm, interesting - thanks Sol.

Is this a recent piece? It seems a bit late to be asking/raising these questions.

"the UK should enjoy operational autonomy, which entails industry in the UK having the capacity to sustain and modify equipment in service with UK forces"

In my opinion this is the key to our current problems - Defence Procurement and our incestuous relationship with industry i.e. BAE Systems.

Now, I can't comment on ships or submarines, but look at the FAA (and the RAF) and the many different types and marks of aircraft that we operated from 1950 through to the 1980s, all built and designed by different aerospace companies competing in a healthy defence industry. Blackburn, Supermarine, Hawker, Avro, Westland etc etc. These companies had to fight for MoD contracts and usually the best man won (although there were obviously some victims of interservice in-fighting - P1154 and TSR2 to name two).

There was no DPA, DLO or DE&S and we usually got kit that worked, on budget and on time. We'd change aircraft types every few years or so with no major snags.

Then along came British Aerospace, gobbling up all the other companies, which evolved into BAE Systems which has grown to encompass not only our aerospace industry, but also our shipbuilding and heavy tank industries too. In my opinion this monopoly has stifled competition and bogged MoD down with contracts that it can't get out of without huge financial penalties.

I know it sounds harsh - but stuff BAE Systems and stuff industry. There's no going back to the halcyon days of the UK defence industry. We don't need "operational sovereignty" if we are going to continue to hang onto the apron strings of the US. If we want to keep up with them and remain equal and operationally compatible partners, we might as well start buying proven kit from them or our other NATO allies that works at half the cost.

I know that over the years technology has moved on, and perhaps in the past equipment could be designed and manufactured in a shorter timeframe. But am I looking at the past through rose-tinted spectacles? Perhaps some of the salts could enlighten me on whether or not things were better in the good old days :)
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