Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why does this not surprise me?

RAF Airbus transport fleet 'not fit for war'

The National Audit Office said the Airbus deal was years behind schedule

It could cost hundreds of millions of pounds to equip the RAF's new transport aircraft to fly in war zones, the Ministry of Defence has been warned.

When I saw the BBC headline, I thought it was talking about the current, geriatric Tristar and VC-10 fleets.

£10,500 million pounds for 14 aircraft seems quite a lot - £400 million per year lease cost - 20% of which is AirTanker's operating costs. Now list price for 14 A330-200 would seem to be $2.5 billion (and there would be discount for ordering 14 identical planes) - so the MoD appears to be paying at least a 300% premium for some combination of tanking kit, the finance and its own incompetence.

For something not fit for purpose - military tankers that were never specified to "fly directly in to high-threat environments"? At least not without the fitting of several hundred million £ worth of improvements over "a number of years".

NAO summary and report as pdfs.

Update - Okay - I'm reading the full report and we are only getting 9 aircraft - to replace a current fleet of 24.  That makes it a 650% premium.  There will be 5 further aircraft procured - which can be commercially leased out and we have to pay extra to get if we want them.  Sighs.  Update to the update: the "Public Sector Comparator" was based on a purchase of 19 B-767 - albeit with 20% less fuel capacity than the A330 MRTT.  Even then it was cheaper ...

Update 2:  Was thunkin.  Are the 5 non-RAF planes going to be equipped with the defensive aids suite?  If so, does MoD have a veto on whom they are renting to?  If not, and we then need them, how many months is it going to take to have them fitted before they are useable?

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