UK defense contract concern passed to anti-graft squad

Concerns raised by an opposition member of parliament that Latvia paid too much for the purchase of a large number of used military vehicles from the United Kingdom have been passed to Latvia's dedicated anti-corruption force.

Saeima deputy Andrejs Elksnins of the opposition Harmony party posted images on Twitter of a letter he had received from the Prosecutor General's office saying his concerns had been passed to the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB).

Shortly afterwards he tweeted another letter, this time from the State Auditor, apparently informing him that any probe that agency had launched into the purchase was secret.

Elksnins has demanded to know why the cost of buying 123 used armored vehicles has ballooned from a basic purchase price agreed in 2012 of €50 million to more than €250 million after they have been upgraded and fully equipped.

The CVR(T), or Alvis Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) platform is now four decades old. According to manufacturer BAE Systems, which also has the contract to modernize Latvia's vehicles, 23 countries have bought a total of 3,500 of the vehicles since 1972.

An interesting history of the vehicles and details of some previous purchasers is found at the Army Guide website.

With Latvia due to increase its defense spending to NATO's recommended minimum level of 2% of GDP by 2018, more money is certainly going to be spent on procurement, with a corresponding need for scrutiny to make sure it is being spent in the most efficient way.

The deal has come under fresh scrutiny after Lithuania last week announced its largest ever defense purchase: €386 million to buy 88 brand new German 'Boxer' armored fighting vehicles.

If you fancy some military hardware of your own, the British Ministry of Defense has plenty of pre-loved vehicles available at bargain prices - though to collectors rather than allied powers needing rapid mechanization and combat capability.

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