Let us start with the first point. The Sentinel is not an early-warning radar, which the E-7 Wedgetail is. If we are going to say that I retired one platform capability and replaced it with another, let us try to make sure that we replace it with the right type of capability, otherwise someone will be flying the wrong plane in the wrong place at the wrong time—but then I suppose we should not really be very surprised by Labour.
I entirely understand the NAO’s observations. There are, absolutely, a great many things to put right, and in putting them right, yes, we cancel programmes that we cannot afford, yes, we retire capabilities that should have been retired previously, because that is called putting your house in order. Otherwise, we end up with an NAO ruling that
“The MoD has a multi-billion-pound budgetary black hole which it is trying to fix with a ‘save now, pay later’ approach.”
That was the NAO’s report on the Labour Government in 2009, and the “pay later” is what we are now living with.