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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Is this all we get?

The BBC play the useful idiot for MOD spin on the unveiling of the "Voyager", the RAF's "largest ever aircraft", as though that was something remarkable.  Strip away the hype and what you have is an Airbus A330-200 with strengthened floors, wings off an A340 with 4 engine mounts so the second pair can be used for in-flight refuelling pods. 

Liam Fox called the planes magnificent, but it isn't the planes, which are truly eyecatching, but the price.  You can see bigger planes taking off and landing at Heathrow all the time.  An A330 is nothing special, a medium to long range plane comparable to a Boeing 767, MD-11 or the new B787, but smaller than all the A340's, A380's, B777's and B747's in the world. But none of them cost even a quarter of the $1 billion per plane that we are paying for the rather ordinary RAF's planes.

The BBC website gives a nice diagram showing how the A330 is bigger than an Aor Lancaster or a Vulcan bomber, but omits to show that it is only fractionally larger than the VC-10's and Lockheed TriStars that they replace, which came to the government virtually free from the BOAC fleet. They also required strengthened floors for cargo and mountings for pods for in-flight refuelling, so no new technology there.

So yet again, why are we paying an extra $800 million for each of these planes? About £7 billion spent without any real explanation. Perhaps the governments new accounting regime will give us a clearer picture.  I see an FOI request coming on.

1 comment:

Demetrius said...

Very good one, and good question.