Skip to main content

Defence Capability and the Equipment Plan 2019-29


In two reports published earlier this year, the National Audit Office found that for the third successive year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) ten-year Equipment Plan “remains unaffordable”, and that the Ministry is “struggling to deliver key parts of the UK’s planned defence capabilities programme”.

The NAO’s report ‘The Equipment Plan 2019-2029’ assesses the affordability of the MoD’s Equipment Plan, how it is addressing funding shortfalls and the consequences for the development of military capabilities. 

This year’s Equipment Plan sets out the MOD’s equipment and support budget for 2019-2029. The Plan includes equipment already in use, such as the Typhoon combat aircraft, as well as equipment in development, such as four new nuclear-armed submarines. For the next 10 years, MoD will allocate more than 40% of its total budget to its equipment and support programmes (£183bn over the next 10 years).  

The report finds that the Equipment Plan remains unaffordable – for the 3 year in a row – and the financial challenge facing MOD is increasing. It concludes that the MoD has again failed to make strategic decisions to develop an affordable investment programme and is locked into a cycle of managing short-term financial pressures. As a result, the MoD’s approach has led to examples of poor value for money and is affecting the Armed Forces’ ability to develop the capabilities that they need in the future. 

The NAO’s report ‘Defence capabilities – delivering what was promised’ examines whether the MoD’s processes for delivering military capabilities into service represent value for money.  

A large proportion of the MoD’s budget is spent on delivering defence capabilities, and in the last two years a number of reforms aimed to speed up delivery of capabilities have been introduced. 

But the report finds that delays to the delivery of capabilities which are central to the MoD’s requirements are endemic, and delayed projects often have factors in common.

It also finds that when declaring milestones in the delivery of capabilities, there is a culture of overstating what has been achieved. The NAO concludes that the MoD’s ability to oversee the acquisition of individual capabilities and manage the whole programme is hampered by poor management information and a lack of key personnel.  

On Thursday 28 May 2020 the Committee will question officials from the MoD on the Ministry’s defence capabilities, progress to tackle funding pressures, and the affordability of its 2019-2029 Equipment Plan. It will also question the officials on delays in delivery of capabilities (including F-35 and Carrier Strike) and cost over-runs, issued raised in the Committee’s recent inquiry  Defence Nuclear Infrastructure.

If you have evidence on any of the questions raised in these NAO reports please submit it here by Monday 25 May 2020