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Delays in the British Army’s £3.2bn battlefield communications system risk becoming the MoD’s “next procurement disaster”, critics have warned.

Next Generation Tactical Communications System, known as sleep, about to replacewhich was first introduced about 20 years ago.

Sometimes described as the “brains” of the military’s future armored vehicles, it is positioned as a network linking sensors, commanders and weapons. The project involved software and hardware, including battlefield radios.

Morpheus is expected to enter service by the middle of this century, but some members of Congress and defense analysts have warned that it is unlikely to be operational before 2030.

Defense Acquisition Secretary James Cartlidge said in a written statement last month that the system had been delayed and would not enter service in 2025 as planned, adding that “a revised date has not yet been set, pending further discussions with Ongoing contract discussions in the U.S.” General Dynamics is the prime contractor for the first phase of the project.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Conservative MP and former armed forces minister Mark Francois, Catledge also revealed that the system had so far cost around £690m.

The Ministry of Defense has previously warned of setbacks to the contract, announcing in December that the initial phase of the Morpheus project was “significantly below expectations”.

François, a member of the House of Commons defense select committee, told the Financial Times that Morpheus “is rapidly evolving into the next acquisition disaster for the army”, likening it to the British Army’s long-delayed armored vehicle program Ajax In this case, General Dynamics was the prime contractor.

An independent inquiry into £5.5bn Ajax’s plans, released in June, delivered a harsh verdict on the procurement, which has been dogged by problems despite ministers insisting it was “out of the woods”.

François said the MoD’s £690m spend on Morpheus so far had “very little to show” “other than a bunch of consultant reports and PowerPoint slides”. He added that “Morpheus” is “unlikely to be in service before the next decade, and those involved should hang their heads in shame”.

Earlier this year, François raised concerns about extending the life of the military’s current tactical communications system, known as Bowman, and warned that “within a few years, cryptocurrencies may no longer be secure.”

Francis Tusa, editor of the Defense Analysis newsletter, said the continued use of Bowman would make British forces the “weakest link” among the allies, adding: “New weapons are increasingly dependent on communication data rates. Sleep program delays could limit the effectiveness of the weapon system.”

Labour’s shadow defense procurement secretary, Chris Evans, also voiced his concerns, warning delays to the “sleep program” would force the Ministry of Defense to “extend obsolete equipment”.

He said a Labor government would demand a comprehensive audit of MoD “waste” by the public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, in a bid to improve the UK’s procurement system.

Last month, the Defense Select Committee released a 60-page report mocking the UK’s handling of military procurement as a “totally broken” system that put soldiers in “danger”.

General Dynamics’ UK subsidiary said it was “working with the Ministry of Defense to continue to support and modernize Bowman, the main tactical communications system of the UK Armed Forces, which the Ministry of Defense intends to replace or evolve into in the future Morpheus”.

The MoD said it remained committed to Morpheus but was “reviewing the next steps in the project” and “how best to achieve our objectives”. The Defense Ministry said the armed forces continued to “meet all operational requirements”.

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