Eyebrows were raised in parliament on 17 July, when Hammond said the ministry of defence would assess a favoured route of picking a private sector management company to head a government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) entity tasked with buying and supporting equipment for its armed forces.
With the Olympic security shambles - caused by the failure of a deal with civilian company G4S - fresh in their minds, opponents questioned the wisdom of pursuing such a strategy when the wider defence of the realm would be at stake. Union officials also spoke out about a further erosion of civil service jobs.
A privatisation of the kind that made Qinetiq bosses millionaires has already been ruled out, and backers point to the success of an arrangement under which Serco manages the Atomic Weapons Establishment.
There is no question that the UK's defence procurement practices are in need of transformation, with shortcomings evident across air, sea and land. But with the current administration having been accused of rushing through swingeing defence cuts with long-term consequences, this process must not be mishandled.
(This first appeared as the second leading article in 24 July Flight International)