London: The British Army`s new combat uniform, which took nearly two decades and GBP 2 million to design, has surprisingly been outsourced to China for mass production, a media report said.
Though the new uniform contains a hightech material which promises to help save the lives of British troops in war -torn Afghanistan, senior officials have expressed displeasure over the decision, the `Sunday Express` reported.
"We know Chinese-made weapons are used by the Taliban, yet we are prepared to pass it contracts to make kit for our soldiers," a dismayed senior Army officer was quoted as saying.
Britain has been trying to introduce new camouflage since the 1960s but it was not until Afghanistan that the need was taken seriously. The country`s varied terrain means troops could find themselves fighting in deserts or green valleys.
But, a senior Whitehall official said: "We need to be economical with our procurement decisions but not at the cost of security."
Others sources have also pointed out that Chinese-made desert uniforms were notorious for their poor quality. A senior officer said: "The desertgear just fell apart weeks after being worn. It`s a scandal that we`re sending the
new material from where it is made in Northern Ireland all the way to China to be assembled into uniforms and then sending it back."
Added Patrick Mercer, a former colonel: "I find it extraordinary that British uniforms are being manufactured in a country with which relations have been strained. We know that China makes weapons used by the Taliban. There`s a danger that these uniforms could fall into the wrong hands."
However, a Ministry of Defence spokesman justified: "Contracts are awarded to companies who offer the best value. It is up to them how they choose to meet their contractual obligations, including the use of sub contractors."