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MoD defends '£2,000 laptops'

The Ministry of Defence has rubbished reports that it is spending £2,000 each year on laptops that could be bought for £400 on the high street.

A report in the Sun newspaper said the MoD was paying suppliers £170 every month for security inspections on new PCs, quoting a staff member as saying: "It's an incredible waste of money."

The MoD moved to quash the reports, stating that the additional cost did not apply to the 150,000 terminals in its £7.1 billion Defence Information Infrastructure project, only to additional machines. Moreover, the laptops are used in warzones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and are "not comparable" to low-cost high-street computers, an MoD spokesperson said.

The laptop service under the DII scheme "will provide a coherent IT service across defence as a whole, extending from the MOD's head office, through fixed locations and into the deployed environment, with a footprint extending around the world," the spokesperson explained. It includes security, access to 500 applications, secure messaging, service desk support and repair, network management and datacentre support.

A source close to the MoD added that the machines are 'ruggedised', could be dropped from 20 feet in the air without breaking, and "some run functions like launching missiles". They are "incomparable to high street PCs", the source said.

The DII scheme, which aims to replace 300 legacy systems with a single infrastructure, is run by the EDS-led Atlas supplier consortium. Last week, the Committee of Public Accounts accused the MoD of "totally inadequate" planning on the project, which is set to be £182 million over budget. It also said EDS had "underestimated" the complexity of software it was rolling out.

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