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I struggle to find much to disagree with here.

In particular and still can't imagine us ever fighting a war without the Americans again. WIth this in mind, should we stop wasting money on projects like the Euro Fighter and instead buy tried and tested equipment?

I am in favour of having a strong military, and being able to produce the equipment we need.

But do we really need to invest tax payer money in helping export arms to countries like Saudi Arabia?

"DESO’s operating costs budget for 2006/07 was £51.438 million gross. But once income from customer Governments is taken into account, DESO’s net operating cost budget was £15.972 million....
...Greece, India, Japan, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America..."



Andrew Hemsted@

>can't imagine us ever fighting a war without the Americans again<

Can't you? Why not? We fight lots of wars without the Americans. Sierra Leone and the Falklands are two well-known recent examples. And in other situations Americans only supply air power (e.g. in the Balkans). I'm certain we shall fight several wars over the next two decades in which the Americans are not involved.

Exactly, Andrew - you beat me to the obvious elephant in the room: Eurofighter.

Discussed endlessly elsewhere over the last few years so little point rehashing the well known points.

But also consider HERTI, the new "autonomous unmanned system" from BAE which the RAF have just bought. It had engine failure on final trials.

Or the new (redesigned) Stryker tank that the US have just sent to Iraq. Brilliant quote: "I wish [terrorists] would just blow mine up so I could be done with it," said Specialist Kyle Handrahan (22) of Anaheim, California.

Andrew is spot on - more efficient procurement and use of tried and tested equipment is the way forward.

@Andrew Lilico

I apologise for the two posts in succession, but I've just seen yours.

Leaving aside shaky political willpower, do you really think that the Royal Navy could mount another Falklands with present resources? Even if we invested heavily in shipbuilding right now it would be 10 years before would have the fleet to carry out a campaign like that again.

We are hardly fighting a full scale "war" in Sierra Leone and to describe the Falklands as "recent" is kind of you because it makes me feel young again. Not accurate when I look in the mirror though.

@Andrew Lilico

Have to say I kind of knew the Falklands would be mentioned, but as already been said, there is no way we could currently fight a war like that on our own.

More actions like Sierra Leone are likely, but those only require a few thousand troops.

The real problem we have is with the MOD, which last time I looked had more Admirals working there than the Navy had warships, and has just spent millions on a re-furb of it's office space, and that it continues to waste money on silly projects.

I'm not convinced about the need for DESO and its several hundred employees. Its biggest achievement is probably the contract with Saudi Arabia which isn't something to be too proud of.
I find the relationship between the last few homegrown British (particularly the last big one) defence manufacturers and the Government uncomfortable.

For god`s sake we should be talking about peace not about building the defence industry up so it can make more bombs etc to kill people.
Fox is a right-wing warmonger and an idiot with it. Personally I think he should have been booted out of the shadow cabinet ages ago.

But Sam, much as it might make you uncomfortable it was the deal with Saudi Arabia that's kept our defence industry in being. You have to decide whether you agree with Liam Fox that the need for Sovereign capability is important or not. If it is we need to export.

Just seen your post Jack. There is certainly an idiot around here and it isn't Liam Fox. I'm really beginning to wonder why you claim to be a Conservative at all.

People need weapons - to defend themselves, to invade oppressive neighbours, to deter, to maintain public order, and for many other equally legitimate reasons.

Britain is good at making weapons.

So, we trade.

Furthermore, supplying weapons can secure us alliances with countries that might not otherwise make natural bedfellows but that are (at least for the moment) useful to us - such as the Saudis.

The defence industry has long been an excellent British industry, of which we should be proud.

"The United Kingdom, unlike most members of the EU, maintains the ability to develop, manufacture, and sell world class products for the global defence market."

At least until Fox undermines that by buying foreign products "off the shelf".

Putting aside ethical considerations, there is no reason why one particular branch of industry should get such a disproportinate subsidy from the government. It's a very inefficient way of keeping these people employed. Imagine what the same subsidy would do for renewable energy? We'd be the world leaders by now.

What's the point in buying British if the weapons don't work? Astute, Nimrod, the Type 45 and Eurofighter have shown us that if we want the best weapons delivered on time and at a reasonable price, we should turn to the United States.

"Fox is a right-wing warmonger and an idiot with it"

Jack, you'd be better off keeping silent and letting us think you're an idiot than opening your mouth and proving it.

The problem with relying on the US is we will lose the capacity to develop defence equipment, and the US will tell us what we are allowed to do with the equipment they let us have.

My candidate for Elephant in the room is the new carriers because:
1) The will require too much resource to operate.
2) They are not nuclear powered - their Achilles heal will be their supply line.
3) Recent soviet Russian missiles like have stopped the US from building new carriers as they can't protect them. (The Chinese are keen customers ).

The answer for the Falklands is to put sufficient resource down South to defeat any landing. If not then its time to negotiate from a position of relative strength. (Brown's invited the new Argentine President over for a chat this year - on some progressive politics weaze ).

Sean when as Fox been any good at any post he was given. He was useless at health, hopeless as Party Chairman and at defence as just parroted what his neocon friends he America say. The man is useless and is incapable of any original thought.The sooner his gone back to the backbenches where he belongs the better.

Looking from the long term historical perspective we can draw some fundamental conclusions. Firstly Govts have a primary duty to defend their citizens. Secondly to defend their citizens they need to have the technology to do it because somebody else always will. Thirdly you can't be certain of having that technology unless you are able to develop a significant proportion of it. Fourthly that developing such technologies has major spin-offs for industry and thus society. These are the principles that should drive our decision making in this field and Liam Fox captures a fair degree of this.

Sean when as Fox been any good at any post he was given. He was useless at health, hopeless as Party Chairman and at defence as just parroted what his neocon friends he America say. The man is useless and is incapable of any original thought.The sooner his gone back to the backbenches where he belongs the better.

Posted by: Jack Stone | March 20, 2008 at 19:41

A fine piece of writing Jack, but if only you had spelt in your usual style as "The sooner his gone back to the blackwenches where he belongs the better", it would have been even funnier - stop messing about.

For God sake Jack there is a bloody 'h' in the word has. Your posts are as half witted as your spelling.

Liam fox is no good. I wish someone (lib Dems perhaps?) would suggest we share our defence capobilities with the French. Couldn't we persuade them to share the cost of Trident missle replacment, and our Trident submarines to have dual control with the French.

Malcolm tell me anything that Fox as ever done in politics that as been successful.He as been useless at every single job he as been given.The man is a fool and the party would be better off without him.

'e woz a good party chairman who enthoozed the constuencies in a way that neither Maude or Spelman ave managed.
At Defence e as ighlighted the orrible treatment of our troops by the MOD.
is speech at conference last year about Brown taking photo opportunities with our troops in Iraq signalled the beginnings of Brown'a misfortunes. E as also ighlighted the need for this country to protect its energy security.
Enough now Jack?

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