DefenceSynergia (DS) is concerned that unless we have missed something in the Christmas mist we are not aware of any overriding operational need to go single source for the Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) contract. The German system under consideration seems like a ‘gold plated’ solution and probably far too heavy to easily meet United Kingdom (UK) ‘Strike Brigade’ expeditionary deployment doctrine.
It seems to DS that there are lots of options out there that could easily fill the MIV requirement and with a bit of intelligent industrial management we could easily see the UK building this type of vehicle. For example: There is a facility in Newcastle, the Armstrong Works, now run by Pearson, that could easily do the manufacturing and there are many designers more local than Germany who can do that side of the work.
To DS this seems like a disgraceful policy (if policy it is) which completely negates any pretence of adhering to the recently refreshed Defence Industrial Strategy. Within MOD there seeming to be denial when they totally ignore that procurement decisions need to take wider account of the UK economic impacts and negative knock-on effect that such decisions to buy abroad have on indigenous national military capabilities. Thus leaving DS to wonder if in the minds of MOD everything, apart from a few favoured capabilities, are up for sale and can be ‘offshored’ just to get the cheapest price (or not, as in this case) leaving any economic multipliers to foreign nations – profits, taxes, jobs, Gross National Product growth etc. Whereas, with cohesive adherence to a UK industrial policy manufacturing jobs, a strategic capability and taxes from those employed would stay in the UK, unless overwhelming operational of financial considerations (national interests) dictated otherwise.
To be fair, an MOD spokesman has said: “No decision has been taken on the acquisition strategy for MIV and at this stage our approach remains competitive procurement within the supply chain wherever possible.” However, DS is sceptical as this statement could mean that a single source contract could still be awarded but the contract winner would be expected to show that they run competitions for materials, sub-systems and other support to the contract.
Nevertheless, even if the UK were to chose a foreign design for the MIV project, one that has been tested overseas, surely the UK can still do the manufacturing locally. The overseas contract winner required to offer substantial offset work to UK companies.
Sadly, within MOD it seems, joined up thinking such as this is frowned upon – much easier to go single source!