The Defence White Paper, published today, has favoured a Modified Off-the-Shelf (MOTS) approach to defence procurement – where the Ministry of Defence will buy equipment based on the best value for money and UK-based contractors modify the kit to comply with Armed Forces’ requirements.
Companies like General Dynamics UK, whose SV vehicle family (pictured) is a prime example of a programme that uses MOTS procurement, have welcomed the Paper, as has aerospace, defence and security association ADS, who has that said a MOTS approach is a practical way forward given the MoD’s budget constraints.
But speaking to the Financial Times this morning, Alberto de Benedictis, head of Finmeccanica UK, questioned whether modifying off-the-shelf kit actually presents good value for money. His company manufactures a vast array of defence and security products worldwide, and as such welcomed more competition where companies are measured equally on the merits of their products and prices.
But he told the Financial Times that manufacturers want better visibility of which defence programmes the MoD will build, rather than how they will procure the equipment.
General Dynamics UK identified four key components of the white paper that supported the defence industrial base. They are:
– Investment in science and technology research and development, deriving real technological advantage and sovereign capability in the UK for current and future requirements;
– Endorsement of the ‘best equipment for best value for money’ model of MOTS procurement;
– Supporting the value of SMEs to defence programmes and prime contractors, and
– Focusing on exports by appointing a Director of Export Coordination, as well as insisting on the importance of including exportability at the requirements stage of all UK programmes.
ADS applauds white paper’s recognition of security
Aerospace, defence and security trade group ADS today welcomed the defence white paper’s all-round proposals on technology, increasing exports, supporting SMEs and furthering UK security sector capabilities.
On security especially, it approved the Paper’s commitment to appoint a Senior Responsible Owner in Whitehall to work with the UK security industry.
ADS says this is partly in response to its own campaign to recognise the contribution that British companies make to the global security industry, and its future potential by increasing security equipment and services export potential.
“The White Paper is a positive signal for a key growth sector, and demonstrates a real commitment from Government for this hi-tech market with enormous export potential,” said Rees Ward, chief executive of ADS.
“With one of the principal roles of any government being national security, the commitment to evaluate the benefits of a Senior Responsible Owner – or more simply a security champion – in Whitehall, responsible for industry engagement is a real step forward.
He added: “The Paper’s commitment to promote UK… security market capabilities responsibly will be of great benefit both achieving UK economic growth, and also to achieving the UK’s international security objectives. The promotion of UK plc Security Brand by the Government would be a fantastic enabler for exports. Industry will be keen to continue working with Government to ensure that the UK maximises its security export potential.”
ADS believes that the security aspects of the White Paper reflect more positive discussions industry is having with the Home Office, the Foreign Office and UKTI about increasing UK security exports.