Saturday, 29 January 2011

Nimrod: Not just a Plane

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth this week around the scrapping of Nimrod and to be honest, there's much to discuss.

First off, who made the political balls-up of employing a demolition contractor who chops planes up in the open with machines meant for building demolition? Then we wouldn't have emotive pictures of planes being ripped to shreds.

Second, who made the political balls-up of letting the project incur such time and cost overruns? We're billions of pounds worse off and have nothing to show for it except now a pile of scrap. It highlights the piss-poor state our defence procurement process has reached. It has to be changed. We can't go on fudging about this, its costing the country serious money. Defence contractors (and to my mind any contractor applying for government contracts) should make proper costings and bid appropriately. If the cost overruns then the contractor takes the hit. Technical specs should be agreed and set in stone, with no leeway to change. Once the project is completed, then new capabilities can be added. This has the advantage of making project designers aware of the need to have provision in the project platform of easy upgradeability.

Too many times modern defence projects have suffered from lack of clarity: too many and too varied roles, lack of upgradeability, changes to specifications mid-project, changes to specs merely for political purposes.

Lets just spec the thing up, make it easily upgradeable and bloody build the thing, not let the thing drag on for decades, ramping up the cost and ending up with an already obsolete platform.

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