In more defence news this week, Forces Network, explains that the UK Ministry of Defence is facing a £2.9bn gap in its programme to maintain and renew the country’s Trident nuclear deterrent. The National Audit Office (NAO) has said that the MoD is set to spend £50.9bn over the next 10 years on designing, producing and maintaining the submarines that carry the Trident missiles and their nuclear warheads – but the funding ‘gap’ needs to be addressed. The MoD already has committed to £3bn in efficiency savings over that time period to be able to afford the Trident renewal programme. The chair of the public accounts committee, said budget pressures on the MoD’s nuclear programme are now “critical” and that “The department will need to make some critical decisions to get the programme on track financially.” The Guardian, analysing the Auditors’ report, notes that “Auditors express concern at the way that just four contractors – AWE Management, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Babcock International – hold 97% of all current nuclear enterprise contracts.” Skills shortages (337 skilled personnel are needed across seven military nuclear specialisms) are also a concern; the department will need another 7,000 equivalent staff a year up to 2021.

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