In May 2018 an audit of the British military forces concluded that the MoD "simply does not have enough money to buy all the equipment it says it needs." Almost a year later, little has changed, according to a fresh report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.
— Public Accounts Committee (@CommonsPAC) February 1, 2019
Comment from PAC Chair Meg Hillier MP said that "in terms of poor financial planning, the Ministry of Defence is a repeat offender."
"The MoD simply cannot afford everything it says it needs and it is not acceptable for officials to continue deferring decisions that have a bearing on its current affordability gap and longer-term risks. A department that is unwilling or unable to take the action required to help it live within its means is failing taxpayers, who rightly expect Government to deliver the best possible value for their money," the MP said.
Ms. Hillier urged the MoD to act on the Committee's recommendations now to ensure its funding and planning models are fit for purpose.
The ten-year Defence Equipment Plan did not explain the associated uncertainties with the F-35 jets, one of MoD's major programmes.
"The Department told us there remains uncertainty about the support arrangements associated with running two F-35 fleets if the UK was to buy different variants. It considered that it did not yet have to decide which variant to purchase after procuring the first 48 jets. It also told us that the first aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will conduct her first operational deployment in 2021, by when it would better understand the workings and costs of the global support packages available," the report outlined.
Britain's Ministry of Defense plans to have 24 F-35 aircraft on board the Royal Navy's new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth by 2023.
Branded an affordable next generation fighter, the F-35, is set to replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft currently in the inventories of the US Air Force, and allied defence forces.
The UK has pledged to spend $11.6 billion (£9.1 bn) programme and purchase 48 of the jets by 2025, reaching a total 138, jointly operated by Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee has concluded that MoD's inability to provide certainty on its equipment and support plans, risked reducing the confidence industry needs to "invest in the equipment and support required by our Armed Forces."
Among the MPs' recommendations was the requirement for the MoD to report back by July 2019 on how it has engaged with industry and worked on a coherent financial plan.