John Glen is MP for Salisbury. Follow John on Twitter.
For too long, procurement in the Ministry of Defence has been expensive, unpredictable, and inefficient. To outside observers, defence procurement is a closed shop where large, specialist defence contractors hold the Government to ransom whilst others argue that government should make extensive use of cheaper, "off-the-shelf" options.
As with many such debates, the reality lies somewhere in between. It is vital to distinguish between generic items, where the required specification is already known and won't change and which will be purchased in bulk, and sophisticated weapons systems and bespoke equipment where the final specification will not be known until after a contract has been signed.
In a world with multiple and complex threats, in order to maintain strong and effective defences it is vital that the Government is ahead of the technological curve and procures for future capacity to deal with emerging challenges. It is impossible to ‘shop’ for technologies that are still in development or draw up standardised contracts when the specifications and requirements are not known before any contract period expires.