The Telegraph reports, finally, excellent news. Apparently Philip Hammond is due to announce, as part of PR12, that the MOD books are finally in balance.
Apparently, the MOD has even managed to recollect some 2 billions, which had been allocated for costs and expenses which have actually not materialized, to finance several important programs due to be announced soon, probably early next month:
- Phase 2 Enhancement for the Typhoon. Expected by 2014, it should be given the go ahead, if not even brought forwards. Integration of Brimstone and Storm Shadow is part of said enhancement, along with adjustements to software that will allow, among other things, the dropping of bombs at supersonic speed. Paveway IV is already being integrated and will be certified for use this year.
Bringing forwards the integration of AG weaponry is probably seen as indispensable also in order to try and regain appeal on the export market: the loss in India and the embarrassing considerations contained in the Swiss air force evaluation report (in which Rafale beat Typhoon by a good margin in ALL roles and tasks) have been a bitter blow. Waiting for 2014 for weaponry, 2015 or later for AESA and so along is going to be a bad handicap in the chase for export orders.
- Puma upgrade safe and sound. We will see if rumors of a further reduction (from 24 to 22) are real or if all 24 are confirmed.
- Merlin HC3 navalization. According to the Telegraph, all 22 HC3 (what about the 6 HC3A? the plan was to convert a fleet of 25 helicopters in total, scrapping the oldest/damaged ones) helicopters of the RAF are to be navalized and transfered to the Navy for amphibious ops. It will be interesting to learn more about the extent of the modernization and navalization process: the conversion for naval use should in fact be done along with the Mid-Life upgrade of the machine.
- Type 26 funding confirmed.
No mention of the MHPC or MARS FT (the replacement for minesweepers and survey ships and the program for new tankers for the RFA), which are expected to move a step forwards in this Planning Round, but if the crisis has been overcome for real, hoping is no longer a taboo.
Please, oh please tell us that we are not dreaming!