Monday, 27 April 2009

FRES "Fiasco"

I've only just got round to reading the Defence Committee's Defence Equipment 2009 report published in February.... and now wish I hadn't.

There have been numerous articles about the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) in recent months and most of them have been saying what a disaster the whole project was turning into. The Defence Committee's report, however, makes even more depressing reading. I quote the FRES summary:

"The FRES programme has been a fiasco. In February 2007 we concluded that the MoD’s attempts to meet its medium-weight vehicle requirement had been a sorry story of indecision, changing requirements and delay. Two years later the story is, incredibly, even worse. We find it extraordinary that, some seven months after announcing General Dynamics UK as the provisional preferred bidder for the FRES Utility Vehicle, the MoD has announced that priority is now to be given to the FRES Scout Vehicle.
Whilst we recognise that the MoD’s equipment requirements need to reflect changing threats, that is no excuse for the MoD’s behaviour in this programme; they have wasted their and industry’s time and money.
The FRES Utility Vehicle programme was, from the outset, poorly conceived and managed. The MoD must work out what its requirements are for medium-weight armoured vehicles and identify lessons from the saga of the FRES Utility Vehicle programme. In its response to our Report, we expect the MoD to set out the cost to date of the FRES Utility Vehicle programme and how it plans to take forward this programme in the future."

This is the MoD's major project for the Army with over 3,000 armoured vehicles involved! What are they playing at? What's also really galling is that the project has been cocked up and delayed for so long now that it's sure to fall victim to Mr Prudence's budget cuts.

Defence Committee: Defence Equipment 2009
General Dynamics UK: FRES microsite
Army Technology: FRES