The rollout of a new Royal Navy torpedo intended to ‘match’ the capabilities of Chinese and Russian submarines has been delayed - because the Royal Navy has no watercraft capable of firing it.
The situation is so serious that the Ministry of Defence's annual Major Projects Portfolio has warned "successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable" – the same document reveals the MoD will also be selling off the remainder of its 3,200 armoured troop carriers in a cost-saving exercise. Bought for £2.5 billion less than ten years ago, the Mastiff, Ridgeback, Husky and Wolfhound vehicles will be replaced by 500 Boxer armoured fighters at a cost of £1 billion.
The lack of torpedo-equipped submarines means the much-delayed maiden voyage of the UK’s vast aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, may be delayed yet again – its first operational deployment was planned for 2021, in the Far East. The Royal Navy is as a result forced to prepare two attack class submarines in record time, in order to give the carrier extra protection.
The £227 million purchase of Spearfish missiles was supposed to have been completed earlier in 2020, but due to operational demands, the Royal Navy has been unable to provide an Astute-class submarine to carry out live firing tests, or even a warship to monitor the process.
"The Army continues to rationalise its legacy vehicle fleets. The next strand of this work seeks to remove several legacy vehicle types from service. But there are doubts as to whether the Defence Equipment Sales Authority will deliver value with the sales. The vehicles remain in storage awaiting a buyer,” said Jeremy Quin, Procurement Minister.
Bob Swann, who worked on the procurement of the Mastiff and other vehicles, questioned the decision, saying “there is nothing wrong with these vehicles, they have only been in service for a decade and cost the taxpayer a fortune”.