MoD warned over 'shortfalls'

The armed forces are facing "critical shortfalls" in air transport and air-to-air refuelling capabilities because of delays in delivering new aircraft, the Whitehall spending watchdog has warned.

Equipment designed for Afghanistan won't be ready until after withdrawal

3,800 troops are to be pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. Credit: PA

In its annual report on the MoD's major equipment projects, the National Audit Office disclosed that delays to the £32 million Falcon communications system, which was developed for use in Afghanistan, meant it would not now be ready until after British troops have withdrawn in 2014.

Overall, it found that cost projected overruns for the 16 biggest programmes had increased by £468 million over the past year, while total delays have risen by 139 months.

Read: Afghanistan withdrawal speeded up

'Budgetary constraints' cause concern for 2014 Afghan operations

The National Audit Office said there would be some "critical gaps" in air-to-air refuelling and tactical air transport until 2017, and a one-third shortfall in the MoD's stated requirement for tactical air transport aircraft after 2022.

The delays in introducing the new aircraft and budgetary constraints have caused critical shortfalls in some capability areas.

This is particularly apparent up to the end of UK combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, when both air transport and refuelling aircraft will be extremely busy, but also from 2022 for air transport, when the Hercules C130J aircraft goes out of service early.

– National Audit Office

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Armed forces facing 'critical shortfalls', watchdog warns

An A400M air transporter seen at RAF Fairford. Credit: PA

The armed forces are facing "critical shortfalls" in air transport and air-to-air refuelling capabilities because of delays in delivering new aircraft, the Whitehall spending watchdog warned today.

The Ministry of Defence has already spent £787 million trying to plug the gap caused by the delays to the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) and A400M transport aircraft programmes, the National Audit Office (NAO) disclosed.