Carrier Strike must be delivered on budget warns PAC

Latest report from Parliament’s oldest select committee warns of continued uncertainty over deployment, costs and value for money of Carrier Strike programme

A new report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which counts Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan amongst its members, has warned the MoD about the dangers of cost inflation in relation to the Carrier Strike Project.

The PAC report cautions: ‘The defence budget is very strained in the light of commitments made in the last Strategic Defence and Security Review. Carrier Strike is expensive, and despite the Department assuring us that it will manage costs, there is a threat to the future of other programmes if it goes over budget.’

‘For the Department to secure value for money from its significant investment in this long-term capability, it will need to ensure that the carriers and jets can be fully and flexibly used alongside other military equipment, and can be upgraded to keep pace with technological advances.’

Stephen Morgan MP, added:

“We in Portsmouth know only too well how strategically important Carrier Strike is to our nation and local economy.

With our armed forces threatened with unprecedented cuts, it is more important than ever that the MoD achieves maximum value for money.

It is imperative that cost does not increase exponentially to the extent that it impinges on the other key strategic capabilities.

I and the rest of the Committee will continue to seek assurances from the MoD that the necessary steps are being taken to ensure cost is properly calculated and contained, and that technical issues are addressed for the avoidance of further schedule slippage”.

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hiller MP, said:

“There is a lot at stake with Carrier Strike – a hugely complex, costly programme intended to be at the heart of national defence for years to come.

The project continues to leave the MoD exposed financially. Government must bring Carrier Strike in on budget or risk jeopardising the funds available for other defence programmes.

Uncertainty over some costs and the potentially negative impact of foreign exchange rates mean this will be no easy task.

There are also questions over the Lightning II jets and the eventual deployment of Carrier Strike, which could threaten the programme’s value for money.

All this is taking place as the MoD awaits clarity on the future size of the defence budget.

We will be keeping a close eye on this programme and will expect the Department to keep us abreast of developments”.