MoD wasted £40m of your money after jet u-turn

Handout photo of a Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Credit: Lockheed Martin/PA Wire

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed this morning that it has wasted £40 million of your money.

  • £40 million to take a decision that just 18 months ago they derided.

  • £40 million on Plan B only to end up with Plan A.

That is how much was spent finding out that the jets Labour ordered for the new aircraft carriers were actually the best ones.

And the jets the government ordered at the time of the Strategic Defence and Security Review were going to cost too much and delay by 5 years the in-service date for the air carriers.

Philip Hammond was in the Commons trying to justify the decision. He was trying to say that the Government is prepared to take a tough decision rather than stick its head in the sand.

I have just returned from a briefing on the u-turn at the MoD. They say by ordering the jump jet version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (rather than the carrier version they opted for just 18 months ago) the UK will have the option to operate both aircraft carriers rather than just one.

They admit the jump jet has a shorter range, is less capable and carries fewer weapons. But that is offset by the aircraft carrier coming into service in 2018 rather than 2023.

All of which is a perfectly reasonable justification. What is less easy to explain is why David Cameron and former Defence Secretary Liam Fox publicly ridiculed Labour's move - only to end up making the same decision.

Egg on the government's face? For sure.