MPs probe £900m overspend on late submarines

CAD problems partly to blame
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

CAD problems partly to blame

The government has again been forced to admit that failures in a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program have contributed to the delay of the build of three nuclear submarines and to the project coming in £900m over budget.

Adam Ingram, a minister for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), said on Monday that the CAD system chosen to design the submarines was not up to scratch, after Lib Dem Mike Hancock quizzed him over why there had been delays.

In a written statement, Ingram said: "The increase in costs and delay to the delivery of the Astute programme stem primarily from problems that arose from the application of CAD techniques. Due to the complexity of the programme, the benefits that CAD was envisaged to provide were more difficult to realise than either [the] MoD or the contractor had assumed."

BAE Systems, which is contracted to build the Astute-class nuclear submarines, renegotiated the contract in 2003 when it realised the CAD system was not suitable for the job.

This is the second time the MoD has had to answer for overspending on this submarine project, after facing MPs on the House of Commons public accounts committee last year.

A number of factors caused the cost of the project to rise from £2.57bn to £3.49bn, according to the MoD.

An MoD spokesman told silicon.com: "The programme ran into problems. That was because of design issues, poor management and the use of CAD. [We] and the contractor overestimated [CAD] and underestimated the problems it would cause.

"We had to learn lessons from similar things in the US on subs. We had to renegotiate the contract. Not all of it is down to CAD but that was an element."

The first of the submarines is set to enter service in 2009, when Swiftsure and Trafalgar-class submarines will start to be replaced.

BAE said it will take no profit in 2006 for the Astute contract; the company is this year bidding for a contract to build a fourth submarine.

A spokeswoman for BAE told silicon.com: "There are no new delays. We recognised the system should never have been taken on. But it was a large defence contract and a must-win."

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