A flare firing over a Type 45 destroyer in 2013. The British ships have been beset by engine problems. DAVE JENKINS/CROWN COPYRIGHT/PA
Britain has been left with gaping holes in its defences, with warships so noisy that Russian submarines can hear them 100 miles away, drones costing £1bn that have not entered frontline service 12 years after being ordered and light tanks that are too big to fit into transport aircraft.
A Sunday Times investigation has uncovered equipment failures and bungled procurement deals as concerns grow that the armed forces would be unable to defend Britain against a serious military attack.
• Read my article on The Times web site (written with Mark Hookham and John Collingridge) – Subscription Required
HMS Cornwall (F 99) transits through the Persian Gulf in 2007. Photo: US Navy
Navy top brass failed to act on warnings of Iranian aggression, leaving British sailors vulnerable to a surprise attack that resulted in 15 of them being taken hostage in Tehran, according to a secret report.
The incident in March 2007 was described at the time as a “national embarrassment” after sailors from HMS Cornwall were paraded on Iranian television and then the Ministry of Defence allowed the returning prisoners to sell their stories to a tabloid newspaper.
During their captivity the sailors, including the first British servicewoman to be captured since the Second World War, were forced to make propaganda statements on Iranian television.
• Read my article on the Sunday Times web site (subscription required for full story)
A Trident Submarine. Image: Crown Copyright
Defence officials are considering the appointment of an American contractor to run the construction of Britain’s four new nuclear missile submarines.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed last week that it was looking to shake up the procurement process for the planned £20bn project, which is highly contentious politically.
• Read my article on The Sunday Times web site (subscription required for full article)
Computer graphic of the new type 26 Global Combat Ship. Image : BAe systems
A multi-billion pound deal to build a new generation of Royal Navy combat ships on the Clyde has hit stormy waters.
Shipbuilders at Scotstoun and Govan yards are poised to begin work on 13 Type 26 frigates but the £4bn deal is mired in delays because of a dispute over costs between the Ministry of Defence and the contractor, BAE Systems.
• Read my report on the Sunday Times web site (Subscription required for full article)