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Defence

Reforms to transform UK armed forces' kit delivery

A new procurement system will see earlier expert assurance of future military programmes, ensuring they deliver for UK forces on the frontline, under a raft of reforms announced last week by the UK's Defence Procurement Minister, James Cartlidge.

Above: Click to download (pdf) Integrated Procurement Model: Driving pace in the delivery of Military Capability.
Courtesy MoD

To avoid previous challenges where programmes have been over-complex, over-budget and over time, a new Integrated Procurement Model will be brought in from April, which will see:

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  • The Integration Design Authority (IDA) introducing new checks and balances to avoid some of the challenges faced in previous procurements.  
  • Greater empowerment of subject matter experts across the defence enterprise including defence scientists, government export leads, finance experts and industry partners to challenge and shape proposals before they receive the go-ahead.
  • Increased focus on exportability of a capability at the start of a procurement, to prioritise developing kit that can be sold to and used by other nations.
  • Earlier engagement with the UK defence industry to ensure quicker delivery of kit into the hands of the armed forces.

The new model will expose and resolve potential issues in any major programme at the start of the process, aiming to avoid unexpected complications that could cause in-service delays or additional costs.

Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge said: "There is no question that we are living in an increasingly dangerous world, and so our approach to major military procurement programmes cannot go on as it has before.

"Pace, challenge, and integration are vital to setting ourselves up for success and replacing the siloed nature of major programmes that hamper timely delivery and squander global export opportunities.

"All parts of UK defence must embrace these reforms as a positive shift in our approach that will deliver a military fit for the future."

Delivering new equipment and technology more quickly is key to the overall reforms, and the concept of ‘spiral’ development will be at the forefront as new programmes are initiated. This will avoid capabilities that are not adaptable to the changing environment or are overly complex and too bespoke to export.

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Rather than striving for perfection before delivering to the frontline, capabilities at 60-80% of their full potential will be provided to the user, allowing early application, and subsequent improvements to reach their full potential.

Chief Executive of Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), Andy Start said: "This reform is a key turning point for defence procurement and change is already underway in DE&S to help defence realise the ambitions set out today.

"We aim to help bring greater insight from industry and allies into the development of capability at an earlier stage, and we go live with the first part of our new operating model in March to set up major programmes up for success from the start.

"The Archer capability for the British Army is just one example where we have shown we can bring new systems and platforms into service faster. We look forward to helping defence make this kind of pace the norm."

DE&S, the MoD’s procurement arm, has recently redesigned the way it operates so it can get equipment into the hands of our armed forces faster. Its new operating model features a single-entry point which will engage with the military earlier in the process, to help set up projects for success.

It will encourage collaboration across MoD, industry and with UK allies to plan projects coherently and efficiently, injecting the appropriate pace and innovation and making sure work is deliverable, with spiral development built into the plan.    

Yet the new reforms aim to go further, avoiding competition between the military Services for programmes to be approved and encouraging people to speak up in the face of emerging challenges for delivery – a key recommendation of Clive Sheldon KC’s report into the AJAX programme.

The announcement followed the recent launch of the Uncrewed Systems Strategy, backed by £4.5 billion in funding, outlining how the UK is embracing technological change and implementing the lessons from Ukraine, to deliver integrated procurement that is agile and maintains our military competitiveness.

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