The Single Source Regulations Office (SSRO) was established in 2014 as part of an effort to ensure British taxpayers were getting the best bang for their buck when it comes to defense contracts. With the UK’s Ministry of Defense spending roughly $10.8 billion each year on single-source contracts, a lot of money is at stake.
AP Photo/ Alastair Grant
The SSRO has already expressed concern over the purchase of Boeing Apache helicopters and P-8 patrol aircraft. Now the organization has set its sights on the potential purchase of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles from the United States.
“Foreign military sales [FMS] (for example, Poseidon P-8A and Apache helicopters) are decisions to award single source contracts which do not fall under the regulations and therefore do not benefit from the transparency brought by the regime,” reads a September SSRO report, according to Defense News.
“It is vital that there is transparency in all these cases and the reasons are fully justified.”
Jon Louth, of the Royal United Services Institute, agrees, telling Defense News that being open about G2G contracts will improve efficiency.
“The lack of transparency drives uncertainty and cynicism. Some of these deals are really good for the operator and can be good for the taxpayers as well. Having a light shine on these kind of contracts would not necessarily be a bad thing,” he said.
“Why are we having these deals unless we can point to them being specific and exceptional? Something like P-8 is a good example. It’s difficult to see why it trumps other potential solutions other than the operators really wanted it, there’s nothing wrong in that, but let’s at least put it to some kind of scrutiny if we are going to have uncontested solutions.”
In August, the Ministry of Defense announced a number of major purchases, including “dragonfly drones,” virtual reality helmets, and a device that can survey enemy tunnels. The MoD plans to spend over $1 billion on this technology.
The UK also signed a $237 million contract to purchase air-to-air missiles for its F-35B fighter jets. These, however, will be produced domestically.
“Wholly designed and built in the UK, this air-to-air missile on our F-35 aircraft will secure cutting-edge air power for the UK for years to come,” Harriet Baldwin, minister for defense procurement, said in a press release, adding that it would “sustain around 400 jobs across the country.”