Defence chiefs scrapped 15 Sea Harriers with a ‘carrying value’ of £262m and drew up plans to take the remaining planes out of service over the next four years.
In addition, three Tornadoes and 14 helicopters were deemed damaged beyond repair at a carrying value of £76m.
But these reductions in firepower amounted in resource accounting terms to increases in consumption since assets were being written off or written off faster than originally planned – a process described as ‘the impairment of fixed assets’.
Comptroller and auditor general Sir John Bourn complained in a note to the MoD’s 2001-02 Resource Accounts: ‘The Department had not considered at an early stage the financial consequences of the decision to withdraw the Sea Harrier.
‘This prevented the Department from seeking additional resource provision from Parliament through the Spring Supplementary Request for Supply procedure in February.’
Bourn had already qualified the MoD accounts because of issues related to the calculation of stock provisions and accounting for major refits and overhauls of ships, submarines and aircraft and continuing problems with data from the MOD’s logistics management computer systems.
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