An armoured vehicle upgrade at the heart of the reorganisation of the army is £227 million over budget and three and a half years behind schedule.
Problems with the Warrior infantry fighting vehicles were revealed by Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, in a letter to the chairwoman of the Commons spending watchdog.
Warrior vehicles are due to form the backbone of two armoured infantry brigades, under plans to restructure the army prompted by cuts to the defence budget.
The US defence company Lockheed Martin was chosen seven years ago to overhaul and fit new gun turrets and stabilising 40mm cannon to the Warrior vehicle, which entered service in 1988. The upgrade should allow accurate fire while in motion, and will add more armour and update electronics.
The vehicles were used in the first Gulf War, Bosnia and Iraq. Soldiers have been killed travelling in Warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan, prompting armour upgrades. However, it has recorded a low combat loss rate overall, making it popular with personnel.
In his letter in January to Meg Hillier, head of the Commons public accounts committee, Mr Lovegrove said Warrior vehicles were “indispensable to delivering a modernised war-fighting Armoured Infantry capability”. His correspondence acknowledged that in its current state the Warrior fleet was suffering “shortfalls in fightability, lethality, survivability, growth potential and safe operation”.
The future of the upgrade programme — which is supposed to extend the vehicles’ lifespan from their “out of service” date of 2025 to 2040 — is still in question, however. (end of excerpt)
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