The National Audit Office said in a 61-page report published Friday that the Ministry did not know how much its aircraft carrier project would cost over time and identified this lack of clarity as an obstacle to the ships achieving their full operational capability.
"It has not established a clear view on the future cost of enhancing, operating and supporting Carrier Strike, which creates the risk of future affordability pressures. The Department will not achieve value for money from its investment to date unless it provides clarity on its future ambitions; develops its understanding of future development and operating costs, and ensures cross-command coherence and collaboration to develop the full capabilities of Carrier Strike", the report read.
According to Office's chief Gareth Davies, the Ministry of Defence had made good progress with "big-ticket" items like the carriers and the first squadron of F-35 fighter jets, "but it must pay much greater attention to the supporting capabilities needed to make full use of Carrier Strike".
Both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are conducting sea trials and are set for the first deployment in 2021. But the Crowsnest airborne radar system, a key part of the ships' protection, is 18 months behind the schedule and there is only one resupply ship available, while three new ones will not be available until the late 2020s.