British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Daring, the first of the Royal Navy's new Type 45 destroyers
There are serious gaping holes in a number of areas that appear to leave the country’s defences vulnerable, according to findings in The Sunday Times.
Problems that have been uncovered include warships that are so noisy they can be heard 100 miles away by Russian submarines, drones costing a total of £1billion that are still not in frontline service despite being ordered 12 years ago and light tanks that are too big to fit into transport aircraft.
Other embarrassing revelations include equipment failures and mismanaged procurement deals.
The army’s Ajax light armoured vehicles, which are being bought for a total of £3.5billion, are too big to fit into the RAF’s main transport aircraft, the A400m without being partially dismantled.
The army’s 54 Watchkeeper reconnaissance drones, costing £1.2billion, are still not in full service due to several technical glitches despite being ordered 12 years ago.
The Watchkeeper drone, which is still to enter full service with the RAF
New maritime spy planes, bought by the RAF in a £3billion deal, “cannot execute the full range of mission tasks” and are vulnerable to cyber-attack, according to US defence reports.
The navy’s Type 45 destroyers, costing £1billion each, can be detected by submarines as far away as 100 miles as they rattle like a “box of spanners” underwater, according to the former Ministry of Defence (MoD) Director of Operational Capability Rear Admiral Chris Parry.
The number of Type 26 frigates on order for the navy have had to be cut from 13 to eight due to some military experts saying the deal had been “gold plated” by insisting that Chinook helicopters should be able to land on its deck for SAS raids. The decision is said to have caused delays and the sent the cost ballooning.
NATO training exercises Wed, June 8, 2016
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty
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Polish troops land with parachutes at the military compound near Torun, central Poland as part of the NATO Anaconda-16 military exercise
Noise suppression has been probably the biggest dirty secret since the end of the Cold War that people have been cheerfully ignoring
Former Ministry of Defence Director of Operational Capability Rear Admiral Chris Parry
The UK’s fleet of six Type 45 destroyers have also be beset by engine problems which are so severe they have caused them to shut down completely in warm waters.
Each one is having new diesel generators fitted which will take nine years to complete, according to the paper.
Rear Admiral Parry, who once commanded HMS Gloucester, a Type 42 destroyer, said that the Type 45s were “noisy as hell” under water, which made them easily detectable by Russian submarines at long range.
He said the MoD had ploughed money into the warship's sophisticated anti-aircraft and anti-missile system "without thinking about the anti-submarine element".
Former Prime Minister David Cameron talks to members of the Royal Welsh Infantry in front of an Ajax
He believes that the navy had mistakenly overlooked suppressing the noise of its destroyers after the Cold War had ended because the threat from Russian submarines had diminished.
He said: ”We used to put little wooden wedges between the hatchclips and the hatches in my destroyer to stop them rattling so we could keep the Continued noise down.
"We have forgotten all about it — it's crazy. Noise suppression has been probably the biggest dirty secret since the end of the Cold War that people have been cheerfully ignoring."
In response the MoD stated that as it was an air defence warship, stealth was not a “premium requirement” for the Type 45.
Sir Mark Stanhope (R) with the Queen
Former first sea lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said that to design a quiet warship was very expensive: "You design noise quietening into warships that are designed to detect and track submarines.
“We never designed the Type 45 to be a quiet warship."
General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of joint forces command, revealed that the costs of the most expensive and complicated programmes — such as submarines and warships — rise by 7%-11% a year, partly because the government buys its high-end kit from a small number of big defence firms.
He said: ”If you buy your submarines from one place — and it's an act of industrial policy as well as sovereign security that you do that — then you are going to pay a premium. That's a fact of life.”
The MoD said Britain's defence budget is the biggest in Europe and "is growing every year".
It added: "We are focused on maintaining an affordable programme and getting the best value for the taxpayer to deliver the cutting-edge kit [that] our armed forces need to keep Britain safe."
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