LONDON—Higher salaries at private companies have left Britain’s Ministry of Defense with hundreds of vacancies in its $12 billion procurement office.

Ten percent of the 9,200 specialist posts are now unfilled. The problem is particularly acute among electrical and electronics engineers who assess, order and monitor the performance of sophisticated weapons systems.

“We face a diabolical situation in defense procurement,” said Jenny Thurston, assistant general secretary of the Institute of Professional and Civil Servants. “The ministry is ceasing to act as an intelligent customer for the armed forces.”

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