A recent bid to get rid of a hovercraft (A 530) acquired by the SLN nine years ago, but which had never been used for any tangible operational activity, has revealed the squandering of taxpayer`s money on worthless military equipment.
The government had not been successful in its efforts to find a buyer for M 10 class hovercraft purchased, from ABS Hovercraft/ Vosper Thornycroft, at a staggering cost of Rs. 250 million in April 1998 during the PA administration, military sources said. The PA had dropped the plan to acquire more hovercraft after recognising the futility in deploying such craft in operational areas.
Although the Defence Ministry had estimated the value of hovercraft at Rs. 220 million, three buyers who had responded to a government notice had offered around Rs 25 million. The Defence Ministry is likely to consider a fresh tender. The SLN had spent a considerable amount of money to maintain the hovercraft which had been displayed at public ceremonies.
The hovercraft had never served any operational purpose, the sources asserted.
Although the craft had the capacity to carry 10 tons of supplies/equipment or 77 troops, it was never deployed on a mission, the sources said. Had it been deployed in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces, it would not have survived, what an officer called, a hostile environment.
During the previous UNF administration, the government explored the possibility of deploying the hovercraft to carry civilians between Galle Face and Galle but the plan had never materialised.
Successive governments had been accused of allowing the acquisition of arms, ammunition and equipment which did not meet the needs of security forces.