Report flags rising risk to UK defence projects

by Tim Ripley

Risk indicators have started to rise again on UK defence programmes over the past year, according to the latest annual report by the country’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA).

The IPA reported a GBP124 million cost increase on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft because of the fall in the value of the UK pound versus the US dollar. (Crown copyright)

The IPA reported a GBP124 million cost increase on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft because of the fall in the value of the UK pound versus the US dollar. (Crown copyright)

The IPA reported on 8 July that three projects – the Crowsnest airborne early warning helicopter, the Spearfish torpedo upgrade, and the Future Maritime Support Programme to run naval bases more efficiently – are now red flagged, saying the “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable”. This is up from the one red-flagged project in last year’s IPA report. The IPA is run jointly by the UK Cabinet Office and Treasury (finance ministry) to monitor the progress of major procurement projects across the UK government via ongoing assessments and its annual report to parliament.

While the number of projects flagged by the IPA report in the second-highest risk category ‒ ‘amber/red’ ‒ has dropped from 11 to seven since the 2018 report, the number of projects in the third ranked ‘amber’ category has risen from 17 to 20. Across the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) portfolio of 35 projects, worth about GBP162 billion (USD205 billion), the IPA reported that 11 had risen up a category over the past year, while five had dropped down. This year the IPA withheld the classification of two projects on the grounds of national security or commercial sensitivities. The financial aspects of nine projects were withheld due to commercial issues, said the IPA. These included the Royal Navy's two major surface combatant projects, the Type 26 and Type 31e frigates.

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Risk indicators have started to rise again on UK defence programmes over the past year, according to...

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