The Ministry of Defence's multibillion budget overrun has been caused in part because of its spending splurge on flashy new "cyber" capabilities, according to the National Audit Office.
The MoD faces an "unaffordable" spending plan between now and 2030 thanks to poor management and planning, said the NAO in its latest report.
"The Department faces the fundamental problem that its ambition has far exceeded available resources," it thundered. "As a result, its short-term approach to financial management has led to increasing cost pressures, which have restricted Top-Level Budgets from developing military capabilities in a way that will deliver value for money."
The MoD faces a budget black hole measured in billions thanks to its profligacy – and even the announcement of a cash top-up of £4bn per year between now and 2024, on top of its £41.2bn annual budget, won't be enough to plug it, according to the auditors.
Defence officials managed, said the NAO, to spend "£2.1bn of additional costs in Strategic Command's equipment programme, reflecting £1.1bn of new investments to fill capability gaps." On top of that, the MoD's desire to "strengthen cyber capabilities" combined with plans to enhance "global connectivity" resulted in "£1.1bn of cost growth".
Fuelling that cyber-driven budgetary incontinence was the creation of the National Cyber Force (NCF), as announced in November. While this year's budget included £141m for "critical capability risks" including the NCF, the MoD still insisted that "additional funding would be needed to develop military capabilities such as its cyber resilience".