MoD condemned for wasting £300m on failed projects

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The Ministry of Defence will be heavily criticised by Parliament's watchdog today when a report highlights the waste of more than £300m on failed procurement projects.

In its report, the National Audit Office will reveal that the MoD has had to write off money spent on at least two weapon systems developed in the early 1990s but later abandoned.

Sir John Bourn, Head of the NAO, has also refused to approve the ministry's resource accounts for 2000-2001 because of continuing problems with its data on stock and assets. The MoD has also failed to comply with standards of financial reporting, he will say.

Among the weapons systems written off by the ministry are the medium-range and long-range Trigat anti-tank missile and the ALR-66 radar warning equipment.

The Treasury gives departments delegated authority to write off expenditure such as losses and special payments after careful consideration of all the facts, but such write-offs must be reported to Parliament.

The NAO report states that the MoD has reported an advisory loss of £205m arising from a decision not to procure variants of the long-range Trigat. The procurement was rendered unnecessary in 1995 when the ministry opted for Apache helicopters, which have their own weapon systems.

The department has also reported an advisory loss of £109m from a decision not to proceed with an international collaboration for the production of the medium-range Trigat, a portable anti-tank guided weapon system for use by the infantry and Royal Marines.

Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said last night that it was time the MoD improved its performance.

"The decision to procure Apache was made in 1995 but it is only now that Parliament is receiving any sort of confirmation about how much the MoD wasted on long-range Trigat," he said.

The ALR-66 radar warning equipment was intended for the RAF Hercules fleet after the Falklands war, but was not installed until 1993. Faults with the system led to it being inoperable but by the time they were remedied, advances in military technology had overtaken the project. Since then, the MoD has written off the balance of some £12m.