Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 05:43 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 05:43 | SYDNEY

You think we've got procurement problems?


Michael Fullilove


18 March 2008 12:36

As my colleagues have observed, Australia has had some well-publicised defence procurement problems. But in case you think we are unusually bad at these kind of complex purchases, check out the gobsmacking front page story in today's Washington Post on the replacement of the existing Marine One helicopter fleet.
After 9/11, Washington ordered a new fleet of highly sophisticated helos for ferrying around the president of the United States and other VIPs. The choppers needed to be able to carry large loads and fly long distances, as well as 'jam seeking devices, fend off incoming missiles and resist some of the electromagnetic effects of a nuclear blast...a commander-in-chief should even be able to order a nuclear strike from the helicopter.' The new fleet would comprise 28 — that's right, 28 — of the craft, because POTUS typically travels with a couple of extra when he flies, in order to transport staff and discombobulate any watching bad guys. The Post also reports that additional sets of helos are airlifted to every destination. Last Friday, for instance, 'Bush went to New York for an economic speech. He climbed into Marine One on the South Lawn, and two other helicopters accompanied him on the 10-minute flight to Andrews Air Force Base, where he boarded Air Force One for the trip north. At JFK International Airport, another pair of helicopters waited to fly him into Manhattan.'
The cost of these babies: a cool US$400 million each. The overall cost of the project has gone from US$6.1 billion in 2002 to $11.2 billion today. This all makes the JSF look like a bargain, doesn't it?