International usergroups for military hardware

Comment 1st September 2010

Five of NATO member states are part of the so called EPAF: European Participating Air Forces. This group consists of five Air Forces, who joined forces on the operational logistics of their F-16A/B's and embarked upon a combined (together with the USAF) modernisation of the F-16 (the Midlife Update programme).

Great Britain has to cut heavily on defence spending. Yet, each and every time the RAF, the Naval Air Arm and the Army Air Corps seem to want something different than the countries surrounding the UK. The WAH-64 Apache AH1 differs so much from the Apaches of the US Army and the RNLAF (other Apache users), that no logistic economies of scale can be realized. The same is more or less true for the Tornado Force, Joint Force Harrier and the Typhoon.

Why not agree on an international standard and try to form international usergroups for miliatry equipment and weapons? If small countries can achieve considerable economies of scale, so should Britain! Why let the Brirtish armed forces go to waste because of the interests of industry?

Why does this matter?

Britain needs a sizeable military if it is to defend its interests. Yet the economic crisis, the operation in Afghanistan (Herrick) and the inefficient way of running the armed forces make defense cuts necessary time and time again. Besides that, some core competencies have been privatized (tanker force, SAR). When – if ever – has it been wise to let private enterprises run military affairs?

If Britain is to maintain a credible level of military forces, it should rethink its strategies and start looking at smarter ways of making the military do more with less money (not less hardware!)

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