Vast sums of money are wasted due to incompetence, Lets take helicopters as an example. Dan Byles is another member of Forsyth's propaganda organisation. In an article posted on the “Conservative Home” website on 3rd September 2007 ( http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2007/09/dan-byles-the-g.html) he wrote: “Defence spending as a percentage of GDP has fallen, even as the number of soldiers dying in the sand has been rising... in Afghanistan... Brown’s budget squeeze has left us with insufficient battlefield helicopters to do the job properly.” Actually one reason for the shortage of helicopters is "a gold-standard procurement cock-up". That's according to Edward Leigh, the Tory chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Leigh was speaking earlier this month about the findings of a National Audit Office report.
Eight Chinook helicopters were ordered in 1995. They were delivered in 2001 but have since been confined to special air-conditioned hangars. This is due to a mistake in the original order and problems trying to fix it, The Tories were in power when the helicopters were ordered.
The helicopters have so far cost in excess of £422m, and this looks lightly to increase even further. Byles says he was“a staff officer in the MOD during the Iraq invasion”, so perhaps he should've known that. Its also worth mentioning that under Labour military spending has risen in absolute terms, it just hasn't risen as fast as GDP. The Tories have repeatedly said they want public spending to rise slower than GDP.
Even worse than the incompetence is the fraud and corruption on UK military contracts. Transparency International's index rates the arms industry as the second most corrupt industry in the world. The relationship between the arms industry and the Ministry of Defence is so close that, according to a report from the Campaign Against The Arms Industry, “the existence of any real distinction has been questioned”. Key staff frequently move back and forth, in what is called “revolving door corruption”. The MOD has even taken an active part in channelling secret payments to foreigners in return for arms export contracts.
Politicians too seems to have an unhealthy relationship with the arms industry. Mark Thatcher was famously paid a secret £12 million “commission” by British Aerospace after his mother helped the company secure the Al-Yamamah deal. Who knows how many other British politicians have family members who've benefited from such secret largess? Then there is the fact that former Defence ministers inevitably end up with lucrative sinecures in the arms industry.
There is also scope for corruption through bribes to political parties. The Tories have used front organisations like the Scottish Industry Forum and the Midlands Industrial Council to hide the true source of donations. There's no reason why Labour shouldn't do the same thing. It is undeniable that government ministers from both parties have protected arms companies accused of fraud.
In March 1988 Dale Campbell-Savours, a Labour member of the Public Accounts Committee, accused Marconi of using “misleading Engineering Change Requests” to change the specification of the 1985 Firm Price BATES contract and overcharge for these changes. Labour minister Lord Gilbert, Tory minister Sir Tim Sainsbury, and Tory minister James Arbuthnot all lied to cover up the fact that there had been an enormous increase in the price due to changes (see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/10/382700.html). Arbuthnot is the current Chairman of the Commons Defence Committee.
BATES gained added significance in January 2004 when the former head of British Aerospace admitted that the company had regularly used changes to the specification to increase the price of contracts. When pressed for assurances this was not still happening, Kevin Tebbit, the top MOD civil servant, tried to blame it all on Cost Plus contracts. This was despite Chief of Defence Procurement Peter Levene admitting in 1988 that BATES was NOT a Cost Plus contract and that Campbell-Savours' charges might be true. BATES was a Firm Price contract, which is the toughest form of contract the MOD can award. If it could have happened on BATES, it could happen on any MOD Equipment contract (see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/05/399295.html).
It is impossible to get an impartial criminal investigation into fraud and corruption on MOD equipment contracts. This is because the MOD has its own police force and other forces refuse to get involved. It would also be difficult to obtain an impartial prosecution. Blair lent on the supposedly independent Attorney General to block the prosecution of BAE Systems over the alleged Saudi Bribery scandal. In 1988 Labour MP Dale Campbell-Savours said that the Director of Public Prosecutions was refusing to prosecute any company for fraud on MOD contracts if it had overseas contracts too. Even if a company was prosecuted, the MOD would be in charge of the case and could sabotage it.
Until it is possible to get impartial criminal investigations and prosecutions there should be no increase in the money spent on military equipment.