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Committee slams MOD over delays to battlefield systems

The Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slammed the lack of progress in introducing battlefield systems that can reduce “friendly fire” fatalities.

Edward Leigh MP, chairman of the PAC, said nearly five years have passed since the PAC made recommendations to the Ministry of Defence on how to improve combat identification systems.

Leigh said, “Friendly fire deaths during the 2003 Iraq war have shown just how important it is to ensure that the fire power of our forces on the battlefield is directed at the enemy – and not at our own servicemen and women or at civilians. But progress by the Ministry of Defence has been poor.”

He said, “Over half of the programmes promising technological solutions to the identification of friend and foe have been delayed, deferred or re-scoped. And the MOD seems no further forward on cooperating with allies on developing a common battlefield target identification system.

"If agreement is not reached very soon, then an interim, more limited national system must be deployed,” he said.

Leigh said the senior civil servant responsible for combat identification has no direct control over budget or staff. “We need to know exactly what difference he has made,” he said.

The single largest equipment project to improve combat identification - the Battlefield Target Identification System - has suffered major delays while the MOD tries to find a solution that will operate effectively with force allies, notably the US.

Its roll-out has not been confirmed, said the PAC, despite a prototype being ready in 2001.

Read the full PAC report >>

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