April 28, 2011

Bill for Royal Navy’s new carriers continues to rise

Filed under: Britain, Military, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:26

In news that will surprise nobody who has any familiarity with military equipment purchases, the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers are now expected to cost at least another £1bn:

The cost of building two new aircraft carriers for the navy has soared again and could eventually total £7bn.

The latest increases follow a series of costly delays and are largely the result of a decision in last year’s defence review to equip HMS Prince of Wales with aircraft catapults and traps. It is the second of the carriers due to enter into service by 2020.

The first carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be mothballed when it is completed, leaving Britain without a carrier able to take aircraft for 10 years.

The carriers were officially estimated to cost less than £4bn when they were announced in 2007. The estimate rose to £5bn last year after the Ministry of Defence decided to delay the construction programme to put off costs. Short-term savings led to cost increases in the longer term.

It’d be absolutely normal for the British government to decide to delay the ships’ completion even longer, raising total costs but stretching the purchase out over more budget years. It’s a common false economy, and it’s one of the reasons that military equipment manufacturers have to build possible delay costs into their plans.

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