Comments Off on Ministry of Defence equipment on sale to raise cash for military

Ministry of Defence equipment on sale to raise cash for military

Perhaps Britain’s intelligence chiefs have just seen too many Bond films.

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For it has emerged that our secret agents really are kitted out for high society when posted overseas, in much the same way as Ian Fleming dressed 007.

Agents have been given expensive watches so that they can pose as high-earning diplomats or businessmen to mix at exclusive parties.

Now some of the timepieces are being sold off by the Ministry of Defence, having never been used, to help plug a £36 billion “black hole” in its finances.

They are among thousands of items – including an armoured Jaguar, a fibreglass Harrier, and dozens of helicopters and Land Rovers – put on the market to raise funds for cash-strapped military.

The luxury watches include a Raymond Weil Tango, which would normally retail for about £1,000.

According to the website of the MoD’s the Disposal Services Authority, the chronograph has “scratch resistant, sapphire crystal glass, Swiss quartz movement” and is in “as new unused condition”.

Also on sale is a Maurice Lacroix Miros Coussin Chronograph, boasting “white square dial with luminous hands [and] Roman numeral markings “, which sells on the high street for £750.

Female spies were also expected to cut a dash with the help of some MoD-issue sparkle, it seems.

Another of the timepieces for sale is a Christian Dior crystal ladies watch, set with 48 diamonds in a black lacquered dial.

It is water resistant to 50 metres – handy if one needs to dash out of the ballroom, swim across a shark-infested lake and through a submerged sluice to defuse a nuclear bomb.

Perhaps the secret agent for whom this watch was intended had a particularly important mission, for it will set you back £2,750 in the shops.

A source said: “These watches were bought for SAS and defence intelligence operatives who work at our embassies abroad, so they look the part when they go to events and parties attended by diplomats and local dignitaries. It’s all part of creating the right image.”

However, none of the watches are expected to fetch anything like their retail price, prompting accusations that the MoD is selling both servicemen and taxpayers short.

That is unlikely to deter aspiring agents, who can also get their hands on a range of military hardware to cover every eventuality.

Need secure and discreet transport to the casino? Then an armoured black Jaguar XJ6 (guide price £12,000 to £25,000) will come in handy.

Don’t mind being seen? A Saxon armoured personnel carrier (£25,000) might be more your style.

Also on sale are ex-Army motorbikes and Land Rovers and – a little more bizarrely – a full size fibreglass replica of a Harrier jump jet.

Other paraphernalia include a reverse-osmosis water purification system, handy for that desert island hideaway, and two concrete cutting saws (£3,000).

The items are being sold as the MoD tries to reduce a £36 billion “black hole” that the National Audit Office has warned will expand over the coming decade, due to purchasing commitments and a frozen budget.

Big ticket items include the decommissioned HMS Ark Royal, touted to fetch £3.5 million, although questions remain over its possible sale to the Chinese, and three Type 42 destroyers, expected to fetch £1 million each.

Military figures are said to be disgusted with the sell off. Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP and a former infantry commander, said: “It is like selling the family silver. These goods have cost us millions are now they are being sold for peanuts. That cannot be right.”

An MoD spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering the best possible return for the taxpayer when disposing of surplus equipment.

“Last year alone the Disposal Service Authority (part of Defence Equipment and Support) secured £84 million from sales.”

Filed in: World News

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