£1.1bn MoD vehicle spend criticised
The Ministry of Defence is under fire from MPs who accused it of spending £1.1 billion on programmes to acquire armoured vehicles, without delivering a single vehicle in more than a decade.
In a scathing report, the Commons Public Accounts Committee said the MoD had proved to be both "indecisive and over-ambitious" in its attempts to manage the programme.
However the report provoked a furious row, with Defence Equipment Minister Peter Luff accusing the MPs of "misrepresenting the facts".
The committee said that since the 1998 strategic defence review under Labour, the MoD had failed to deliver any vehicles from its core armoured vehicle programmes, despite spending £1.1 billion.
During operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the MoD had attempted to plug the gap by buying vehicles "off-shelf" through the urgent operational requirements (UOR) system, with an additional £2.8 billion from the Treasury reserves. But the committee said the system was expensive and that many of the vehicles bought in this way had been designed for specific circumstances and could not meet the wider needs of the Army.
However Mr Luff said the main procurement programme had delivered the Viking all-terrain vehicle, which was deployed in Afghanistan as well as the Titan and Trojan armoured engineering vehicles.
"The Public Accounts Committee is again misrepresenting the facts. It is not true to say the £1.1 billion spent on armoured vehicles has not delivered any equipment," he said.
In its report, the committee said the problems with the main procurement programme had arisen in part from a tendency by the MoD to specify overly-complex design requirements which it could not afford.
At the same time, armoured vehicle projects had suffered bigger budget reductions than other equipment programmes because they tended to involve lower levels of contractual commitment and were therefore easier to cut.
Over the past six years, the MoD has removed £10.8 billion from the armoured vehicle budgets to 2021, leaving £5.5 billion - insufficient to pay for all the programmes that are planned.