Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Defence (20 March 2000)


  The Iraqi no-fly-zones were established in April 1991 (north) and August 1992 (south) as a coalition initiative (US, UK and France) in support of UNSCR 688 which condemned, and demanded an immediate end to, Saddam's brutal repression of Kurds in north and Shias in south. Coalition aircraft help protect interests of these minorities by ensuring Iraqi aircraft are unable to fly north of the 36th parallel and south of the 33rd parallel. The southern no-fly-zone was extended from 32nd to 33rd parallel in September 1996 in response to Iraqi offensive in north. However, French aircraft withdrew from northern no-fly-zone in December 1996, when the then Op Provide Comfort became Op Northern Watch. The French claimed that it lacked humanitarian element. We are clear it is humanitarian, since it deters Saddam from acting against Kurds in northern Iraq. In the south, French aircraft patrol only up to 32nd parallel. All flights were suspended during Operation Desert Fox, but resumed in southern no-fly-zone on 22 December 1998, and in northern no-fly-zone on 28 December 1998. However, the French have not yet resumed participation.

  The continuing requirement for the no-fly-zones is as acute today as it was when they were established. Max Van Der Stoel, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iraq, in a report published last November, made it clear that the gravity of the human rights situation in Iraq has few comparisons in the world since the end of the Second World War. He also reports that there has been a resurgence of grave violations against the population living in the southern marshes, the most blatant being military attacks against civilian settlements in Al-Nassiriya, Amara and Basra, with associated repressive measures, mass arrests, demolition of houses and summary executions. Whilst it is clear that Saddam's internal security organisations continue to persecute all opponents of the regime on the ground, without our continued presence in the air he would be free to use his airforce to return to an all-out assault. Ministers have made clear our determination not to be deflected from carrying out this vital humanitarian task.


  Since the end of Operation Desert Fox there have been around 230 violations of the no-fly-zones by Iraqi combat aircraft. Whilst they have usually sought to avoid a direct air-to-air confrontation, they have often tried to lure coalition aircraft into the range of surface-to-air missiles. The vast majority of these violations have been in the southern no-fly-zone, some coming far south to within a few miles of the Saudi border. Coalition aircraft have been fired at by Iraqi surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery or targeted by fire control radars over 550 times. In responding to this systematic and sustained attempt to kill our aircrew we are acting only in self defence, and in a proportionate but robust fashion, attacking only targets which pose a real threat to coalition forces.

  Coalition aircraft have been forced to take defensive action on 159 days since the end of Desert Fox and RAF Tornados have dropped laser guided bombs on 33 occasions, hitting 39 targets. Coalition targets have included a variety of different elements of Iraq's Integrated Air Defence System, such as radar sites and associated communications and control networks, surface-to-air missile batteries, and anti-aircraft artillery positions, all closely involved in the attacks on our aircraft. The primary role for both the RAF Tornados in the south and the RAF Jaguars in the north remains reconnaissance—the work which underpins all our humanitarian efforts within the no-fly-zones.

  These actions have thus far ensured that these humanitarian patrols have been able to continue in safety. Indeed, Saddam's only achievement to date has been to further degrade his ability to interfere with this important work; whilst he continues to attack our aircraft, his air defence system pays the penalty. Although coalition action is strictly limited to proportionate defensive measures, the very frequency of Saddam's attacks means that the cumulative damage to his air defence system, particularly in the southern no-fly-zone is causing him pain. He has already had to withdraw many of his strategic surface-to-air missile batteries from the no-fly-zones, and his offering of huge bounties to anti-aircraft units is one indication of the faltering morale amongst these troops, who are only too aware of the responses that further attacks on our aircraft will attract. The threat posed to the safety of our aircraft remains real and present.

  Ministers have made clear that the UK very much regrets having to take this action at all. Should Saddam cease his attacks on our aircraft, we would of course not have to respond. However, the only alternative to allowing our pilots to defend themselves properly would be to give up the patrols and leave the Kurds and Marsh Arabs exposed to Saddam's full might.


  Operation Bolton is the name given to UK operations in support of operations relating to Iraq—this subsumes Op Armilla and Jural. It forms part of the larger coalition Operation Southern Watch (OSW), conducted principally with the United States of America. Key locations are:

Eskan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


    —  location for Commander, Joint Task Force-South West Asia (CJFJ-SWA), Major General Schmitt USAF, and Commander British Forces Bolton (CBFB), Group Captain Ray Hodgson;

    —  no airfield or operational units based at Eskan;

    —  potential to move CJTF-SWA and CBFB to Prince Sultan Airbase. Project referred to as "Desert Shift", no timescale yet agreed.

Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), Al Kharj, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


    —  a major (and expanding) Royal Saudi Air Force and Coalition airbase, situated south east of Riyadh and east of Eskan;

    —  total of 54 US and nine French aircraft declared for OSW located at PSAB, although French aircraft have not participated in operational flying since December 1998;

    —  RAF aircraft based at PSAB are six Tornado F Mk 3, currently crewed by 43 Squadron from RAF Leuchars. Aircraft are air-defence ("fighter") assets that escort Coalition patrols and provide protection from hostile fighters. Total strength in Saudi Arabia (PSAB and Eskan) is 284 personnel. Detachment Commander Wing Commander Hugh Geddes.

Ali Al Salem (AAS) Airbase Kuwait


    —  Kuwaiti Air Force base, located about 90 minutes drive west of Kuwait City;

    —  four US Hercules transports and four helicopters based at AAS main US base in Kuwait is Al Jaber, south of Kuwait City;

    —  RAF aircraft based at AAS are eight Tornado GR Mk I, currently crewed by II (AC) Squadron from RAF Marham. Aircraft operate in a combination of ground-attack and reconnaissance roles, using Paveway-series laser guided bombs, Thermal Imaging and Laser Designator (TIALD) pods, and VICON reconnaissance pods;

    —  additional forces based at AAS include a half squadron of RAF Regiment personnel in the force protection role, and Royal Engineers working on infrastructure improvements. Total strength is 430. Detachment Commander Group Captain David Drew.

Muharraq Airfield, Bahrain


    —  military compound within civil airfield adjacent to Al Manamah, the principal city in Bahrain;

    —  RAF aircraft based at Bahrain is one VC-10 airborne tanker, crewed permanently by 101 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton. Total detachment strength is 36 personnel. Detachment Commander Squadron Leader Nicky Loveday;

    —  role of tanker is to support Tornado F Mk 3 operations from PSAB, to allow sufficient flying time within Iraqi airspace to escort coalition patrols. VC-10 also supports US Naval Aircraft, both carrier and shore-based, which use the same air-to-air refuelling system;

    —  possible move of military assets from Muharraq to Sheik Isa Airbase, a military airbase at the south end of Bahrain, will not take place in short to medium term. Development of Sheik Isa Airbase to standard required for large aircraft operations will take up to three years.


  The Armilla Patrol commenced in 1980 at the beginning of the Iran/Iraq war when British warships operating in the Far East were diverted to the Gulf region to ensure the safety of British entitled merchant ships operating in the region. Since then, the UK has maintained a permanent naval presence in the Gulf which has varied in level from a single frigate or destroyer during periods of stability, to large Task Groups during times of crisis such as the Gulf War of 1991.

  Originally charged with ensuring the security of British shipping. Armilla Patrol has been maintained to ensure an appropriate UK presence to provide reassurance to friendly Gulf States and act as a tangible demonstration of UK engagement in the region. Under the terms of the UN Security Council Resolution 665, the Armilla Patrol contributes to international efforts to enforce the trade embargo against Iraq imposed under UN Security Council Regulation 661.

  Currently the Armilla Patrol is a continual presence in the Gulf of one frigate or destroyer (with a second held at notice to deploy) with a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel in support. The Type 23 Frigate HMS Monmouth is presently on station in the Gulf with support provided by RFA Orangeleaf.

  While this represents the status quo for the Armilla Patrol, additional units such as aircraft carriers, occasionally deploy to the Gulf where the tailored embarked Air Group makes an effective contribution to air operations, including enforcement of the southern no-fly-zone in Op Southern Watch. Occasional deployments are also undertaken by SSNs for operations, exercises and visits throughout the Gulf region. Additionally, Mine Countermeasure vessels (MCMVs) are periodically deployed to the Gulf to exercise and maintain their skills in the region, and ships from the Hydrographic Squadron conduct surveys to update charting information and to undertake collaborative survey work.

  The Armilla Patrol also plays a significant part in fostering good relations in the region through a programme of port visits to Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) States (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman) and by regular exercises with units from GCC navies.




1.  Saudi Arabia has been our most important ally in the Gulf region, and our largest defence sales market in the world. The Gulf war strengthened that relationship and we have been looking since then to increase our influence, and to exploit the Saudi stated intention to increase significantly their defensive capability, by offering UK assistance.

Operation Southern Watch

  3.  Operation Southern Watch was established in August 1992 to monitor Iraqi compliance with UNSCR 688 which condemned repression of the civil population in many areas of Iraq, most notably the Kurds in the North and the Shi'a in the marshes of Southern Iraq. The southern no-fly-zone was extended from the 32nd to the 33rd parallel in September 1996 in response to an Iraqi offensive in the North.

  4.  The UK force contribution to Operation Southern Watch is primarily based at Al Kharj in Saudi Arabia and comprises six Tornado F3s. Op Southern Watch flights were suspended during Op Desert Fox and resumed on 22 December. However, French aircraft have not resumed flights.

Terrorist Threat

  5.  The bomb attack at Al-Khobar on 25 June 1996 revealed the vulnerability of coalition forces stationed in Saudi Arabia. Physical security measures at all work and domestic accommodation for UK forces were reviewed in the wake of Al-Khobar and a number of enhancements were implemented, in co-operation with the Saudi authorities. In general we are content that adequate precautions have been made and are grateful for Saudi assistance in achieving this.

Training in the UK

  6.  Training courses in the UK continue to be well attended by Saudi students.

Royal Navy

  Flagship Training Ltd leads on the bulk of Saudi naval training most of which is connected to Al Yamamah involving Mine Counter Measures (MCM) and diving training; the Saudi Project Office co-ordinates. There are no other students currently under training.


  There are six students under training including one on the MDA course at RMCS. The Saudis normally have at least one cadet each year at RMAS and he is likely to be from a well-connected family; there are none on the course at present.

Royal Air Force

  Despite having shown little interest in RAF Training in the past, the RSAF attended several courses in 1997-98 (predominantly Engineering and Supply) with the active support of Al-Yamamah project team and the sponsorship of BAe. In the last FY they attended 20 separate courses and have bid for a further eight in the current FY.

Exercises and Loan Service Personnel

  7.  The Ministry of Defence and Aviation (MODA) and Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) are quite separate forces, with MODA being controlled by Prince Sultan and the SANG by Crown Prince Abdullah.

  Training with MODA. At present UK armed forces carry out no training with or for their Saudi opposites within MODA.

  Exercises with MODA. The substance of our defence relationship with MODA in terms of military assistance is not substantial, and joint exercises are minimal. The Saudis have little inclination to host or participate in exercises within the Kingdom. There have therefore been no UK Army or RAF exercises in Saudi Arabia in the recent past; the Americans have a similarly low exercise programme with the Saudis. That said, RAF aircraft based at Al Kharj exercised with their Saudi and American counterparts in September 1998. However, the Royal Navy have succeeded in exercising with their Saudi counterparts, with minehunters early in 1998 and Armilla ships on an occasional basis. We would be keen to carry out more joint exercises with the Saudi armed forces.

  SANG—Internal Security Training. As part of the Counter-Terrorist package offered to the SANG after the Al Khobar bomb in 1996, short-term training teams (STTT) from the UK have been conducting low level Internal Security training for the SANG at UK expense. So far two teams have deployed to conduct such training: one in Spring 1997, the second in Autumn 1998 and the third in February 2000. All were a success. Further teams are due to deploy over the next two years.

  Exercises with SANG. UK armed forces do not exercise with the SANG.

UK Loan Service and Contract Personnel in Saudi Arabia

  8.  Currently there are about 100 MOD personnel in Saudi Arabia, either as Loan Service Personnel or on contract to British Aerospace. The four major elements are (all figures approximate):

    —  BMM Saudi National Guard (BMM SANG). Eight LSP, all Army. Assistance with training and associated matters within National Guard;

    —  SANGCOM Project Team. 13 LSP. Running since 1978, controlled by MOD(PE). Assistance with procurement and introduction of new communications system;

    —  Royal Navy Liaison Team. Five LSP. Based at King Fahd Naval Academy at Jubail on the Gulf. The team was established some 10 years ago to assist the Academy with teaching and concepts. The RNLT was only ever intended to be a temporary arrangement and the team has recently reduced from eight LSP to five;

    —  Al Yamamah Project Team. British Aerospace headed project. Support for purchase of Tornado, Hawk and PC-9 aircraft to Saudi Arabian Air Force. Approximately 80 MOD Service and civilian personnel in Saudi, of which the RAF (52 Service personnel) is the largest component.


  1.  Al Yamamah is a Government-to-Government programme with Saudi Arabia for the supply of aircraft, ships and associated support and infrastructure. The programme is funded by revenue from the sale of a fixed flow of crude oil, partly supplemented by cash payments. The original deal concluded in September 1985 (the Core Programme) provided for the sale to Saudi Arabia of 48 Tornado IDS (Strike) and 24 Tornado ADV (air defence) aircraft, plus 30 Hawk and 30 PC-9 training aircraft together with a comprehensive package of weapons, in-service support and improvements to infrastructure facilities. Almost all the equipment due under this phase of the programme has been delivered, but substantial manpower support business continues.

  2.  In July 1988 the Saudi Government confirmed interest in additional Tornado and training aircraft plus Minehunters. Three Minehunters were ordered—all have now been delivered. Forty eight additional Tornado IDS aircraft were eventually ordered in 1993, while the order for further training aircraft (20 Hawk and 20 PC-9) was received in September 1994—the programme became known as Al Yamamah 2. The aircraft, all of which have now been delivered, have been supported by weapons and construction packages.

  3.  The formal agreements for supply are between the two Governments, with the MOD acting on behalf of HMG. The MOD's Saudi project office forms part of the Defence Export Services Organisation and has staff at various locations in Saudi Arabia as well as in the UK. The project office acts on behalf of the Saudi Government in ensuring that contractual arrangements placed on BAe, as Prime Contractor to the MOD, are met.

  4.  Al Yamamah has accounted for over 30 per cent of UK defence exports in recent years; the programme currently sustains about 10,000 UK jobs plus about 5,000 BAE employees in Saudi Arabia of whom 3,000 are European expatriates. Tied to it is an offset arrangement under which the UK seeks to identify commercial opportunities for joint ventures, technology transfer, etc, between Saudi and (mainly, but not exclusively) UK companies. Projects to date have included companies such as Glaxo, Tate & Lyle and BP.



1.  Bahrain is a key regional ally of the UK. It is generally supportive of our efforts to contain Iraq and allows us to base air to air refuelling aircraft there in support of the aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly-zone. Bahrain also co-sponsored UNSCR 1284 although it does retain lingering concerns about the welfare of the Iraqi people. Until the beginning of the year the UK operated two VC10 refuelling aircraft out of Muharraq airport. We recalled one aircraft earlier in the year, although we have assured the Bahrainis that we will reinforce if necessary. The detachment consists of some 35 personnel (the detachment commander is currently Squadron Leader Nicky Loveday). Bahrain is also a regular port visit for ships of the Armilla patrol and the Illustrious Carrier Group was in port last week.

  2.  The US maintains a heavy presence in Bahrain, including Admiral Moore, the Commander of the Navy (Central) (COMNAVCENT). The UK has one liaison officer (Commander Harrie Harrison) attached to NAVCENT.

UK Assistance

  3.  Key to the development of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) is the Shaikh Isa Military College. Named after the late Amir, the college was established nearly two years ago to provide basic officer training to new recruits. The first course will graduate in late October/early November. We currently have one Loan Service Officer attached to the college (Lieutenant Colonel Tim O'Donnell) who advises on course formulation. Funding for O'Donnell is split between MOD, the FCO and Bahrain.

  4.  The BDF are considering expanding the college to cater for Air Force cadets. In its grandest vision this would see the establishment of an Air Training Wing to teach up to intermediate flying techniques (on Hawk-type aircraft). The MOD will be working with the BDF over the next few months to analyse the training requirement to determine whether such an expansion is viable.

  5.  The MOD and BDF meet once per year under the auspices of the UK/Bahrain Defence Committee, to discuss matters of defence interest and to put some structure to the way in which the MOD assists in the development of the BDF. There was no meeting in 1999 but the most recent talks in February this year were judged to be a success. The Bahraini delegation was led by Crown Prince Salman on his first official visit (in his capacity as Crown Prince) to the UK. The Crown Prince had a number of productive calls on the Foreign, Defence and Home Secretaries, Princes Charles and Andrew and Baroness Symons. The MOD also hosted visits to RAF Cranwell (to demonstrate how the RAF structures its recruitment, selection and initial training) and to Warminster (to demonstrate new techniques in battlefield simulation, mine clearance and battlefield radar).

Defence Sales

  6.  Despite our close relationship with Bahrain, the UK has, in recent years, managed to win only a very limited amount of defence sales compared to US contracts in excess of $600 million. The majority of Bahrain's defence needs are met by the US who offer low cost or even "gift" equipment. The last major UK contract was awarded to BAE Systems (the Siemens Plessey Systems) for the supply of an AR327 radar in 1995 (£8 million). Prospects exist for training aircraft, radars and Command and Control training equipment.


  1.  There are eight Tornado GR1 aircraft at Ali Al Salem primarily operating in the reconnaissance role in support of Op Southern Watch. The GR1 recce imagery is processed by a Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (RIC). The Kuwaiti Government continues to be extremely generous in their Host Nation Support (HNS) to the Tornadoes providing accommodation, fuel and vehicles free of charge and has invested considerably in the facilities at Ali Al Salem airbase. The Kuwaitis have suggested that HNS should be covered by an MOU. A draft has been produced and we are expecting comments from the Kuwaitis shortly.

  2.  The Kuwaitis have made initial overtures about building a coalition village for the RAF at Ali Al Salem. The RAF are currently in the process of carrying out a full appraisal of the facilities they require to ensure that the infrastructure is properly coherent and cost effective.

Military Assistance/Loan Service Personnel

  3.  A British Military Mission was established in Kuwait in August 1993 to provide advice and assistance to the Kuwaitis on a wide range of military activities. The team is now fully integrated into all areas of Kuwaiti Armed Forces training. The BMM comprises 47 personnel (32 officers and 15 WOs), including the 13 UK staff for the Joint Command and Staff Course. Further UK support exists in the form of the Kuwait Programme Office which includes a cell of five personnel in Kuwait. This team is responsible for the introduction of UK defence equipment into service with the Kuwaiti Armed Forces including the Desert Warrior infantry fighting vehicle, Starburst air defence missile and the Sea Skua anti-ship missile.

Mubarak Al-Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College

  4.  At the request of the Kuwaitis, UK has set up and is running the Joint Command and Staff College (JCSC) under a Kuwaiti Commandant and a UK Director of Studies, for 60 Kuwaiti students. The first course started in March 1996 and its aim is to train and educate selected senior officers in order that they may fill high grade command and staff appointments. Course number five began in February 2000, and included students from all GCC nations (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and UAE) as well as an officer from China. The Staff College is the jewel in the crown of the UK's assistance to Kuwait. Kuwait has expressed considerable gratitude to the UK for our help in this, and the UK plan to continue with this level of assistance for at least the next two Courses.

Military Training in UK

  5.  Training courses in the UK continue to be well attended by Kuwaiti students.

Royal Navy

  Kuwait signed a major contract for Naval training in November of last year. Officer Cadets regularly attend the RN Young Officers Course at Dartmouth followed by a three month attachment to a RN Warship. There are currently 15 officer cadets on the current course and four officer cadets are currently attached to HM Ships with a further three undergoing language training.


  During FY 1999-2000 training places were booked for 68 Kuwaiti students of which 31 were NCOs at ITC Catterick (nine weeks infantry training preceeded by seven weeks of English Language training). This has become an annual requirement worth some £0.25 million. Each year six places at RMA Sandhurst are taken, normally by members of the ruling family.

Military Exercise and Training in Kuwait

  6.  Land Exercises. In the aftermath of the Gulf War US Centcom set up an exercise programme to exercise US troops in Kuwait, to help rebuild the Kuwait Armed Forces and to allow a degree of Coalition exercising to take place. The Kuwaitis provided the Host Nation Support for allies taking part in the exercises. In recent years the only UK Land forces exercising in Kuwait have been light role battalions from Cyprus. The Kuwaitis made clear their dissatisfaction with this, stating that for the Host Nation Support provided they expected appropriate, ie, armoured forces to participate in the exercises. We have therefore proposed that UK Land forces exercise in Kuwait, with the Americans and Kuwaitis, on US Centcom organised exercises as follows:

    (a)  an armoured brigade headquarters to participate in the Command Post Exercise Lucky Sentinel in odd years commencing in 1999; and

    (b)  provide an armoured Battle Group to participate in the field training Exercise Intrinsic Action in 2002 and every even year thereafter.

  7.  Our participation in Exercise Lucky Sentinel is going ahead this month and represents an excellent opportunity to exercise Armoured Brigade HQ forces alongside Kuwaiti and US personnel.


  1.  The Kuwait Programme Office (KPO) was formed in January 1993 after the MOU of December 1992 was signed that covered the sale to Kuwait of defence equipment and related services from British prime contractors. The aim of the KPO is to provide the Kuwait Defence Forces with the best British Government support available for the procurement of British defence equipment and related services.

  2.  KPO's business is conducted using Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOA). This sets up a government to government agreement, which the KPO then mirrors contractually to British industry with a back to back contract.

  3.  KPO consists of an office in London and a detachment in Kuwait with a mix of military and civilian professional skills to cover all aspects of procurement and support. This is funded at no cost to the British exchequer by a 2 per cent departmental expenses surcharge payable by Kuwait on the value of each LOA. A small staff of five is based in Kuwait, while the main office of 17 staff led by Brigadier Roger Styles (DKPO) is in London.

  4.  Presently KPO has ongoing LOAs for land, air and naval projects. The land ones are primarily AFV logistic support and AD missiles, the air side is for aircraft and engine refurbishment, spares supply and maintenance, and the sea projects include the delivery of Sea Skua Anti Ship Missiles, the conduct of naval personnel training, and the refurbishment of naval workshops.

LOAs in operation

  5.  The LOAs in operation are listed in brief below:

    (a)  LOA 1—Desert Warrior. The provision of a fleet of Warrior AFVs. This mature LOA is now 98% complete, deliveries of vehicles being completed in October 1997. We continue to conduct business regarding maintenance, technical training, and spares to keep the fleet at high levels of operational availability. The Kuwait military are satisfied with and making good use of their 254 vehicle fleet;

    (b)  LOA 2—Starburst. The provision of Starburst air defence missiles. This LOA is all but complete: the missiles and ancillaries have been in place for three years, and only spares and repairs are ongoing. A life extension proposal has been submitted to Kuwait that will offer them a five year life extension;

    (c)  LOA 5—Ship Launched Sea Skua. The provision of ship launched anti-ship missiles for the Kuwait Navy which are to be fitted to the French built P-37 Garoh Patrol Boats. The missile production phase is underway, and we await the right conditions for the First of Class missile firing at Aberporth in Wales. This firing has been delayed by bad weather. In country we are planning for a firing in Gulf waters;

    (d)  LOA 8—Hawk Return to Work. The refurbishment of Kuwait's Hawk jet trainer aircraft fleet. Presently 10 of Kuwait's 12 Hawk ac have been completed in this refurbishment project. The final pair are shortly to be completed and ferried back to Kuwait. Engines for this LOA are supplied from LOA 14;

    (e)  LOA 9—Naval Training. This LOA was to prepare Kuwait naval personnel with English language training, general naval training, and some specialist training. In all 293 personnel (31 Officers, 109 Senior, and 153 Junior) have been or are being trained. The contract is placed with Flagship, but operated by RN, Flagship and Kuwait personnel. The present LOA is scheduled to be completed in early April 2000, but there is a possibility of an extension to conduct further training in the UK and in Kuwait;

    (f)  LOA 11—Hawk 7 Tucano "I" and "O" Level Maintenance. This project takes place in Kuwait and is to carry out intermediate and operational level maintenance on the Kuwaiti aircraft fleets of training aircraft. This LOA is subject to quarterly audit by KPO, and is presently running well;

    (g)  LOA 12—NBC Respirators. Following various proposals and enquiries an order was placed by Kuwait for 1,000 NBC respirators.

    (h)  LOA 14—Adour Engine Repair Programme. It was discovered at the beginning of the Hawk Return to Work programme that some of the engines were corroded by acidic oil contamination and would need remedial attention beyond the scope of LOA 8. The work on five of the seven engines in the LOA has been completed.

LOAs in prospect

  6.  There are a variety of further matters under discussion and awaiting agreement across the spectrum of tri-service equipment. Seven further LOAs are at various stages of maturity.


  Operation Northern Watch is the Northern no-fly operation—known to the UK as Operation Warden. The Northern no-fly zone was established in April 1991 as a coalition initiative (US, UK and France—although France withdrew in 1996) in support of UNSCR 688 which condemned, and demanded an immediate end to, Saddam's brutal repression of the Kurds. Following Iraq's defeat in early 1991, the Kurds of Northern Iraq attempted, through military action, to promote the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. This proved unsuccessful. The remnants of the Iraqi army mounted an offensive in retaliation against them—involving extensive use of helicopter gun ships—resulting in a mass exodus of people from northern Iraq over the border into the mountains of South East Turkey. Originally a force of land and air elements was positioned in the designated safe haven area and repatriation was started. In mid-July 1991, having established the "safe haven", the ground forces withdrew from Iraq and camped on the Turkish border until the end of September 1991, when they were withdrawn.

  Coalition aircraft help protect interests of the Kurds by ensuring that Iraqi aircraft are unable to fly north of the 36th parallel. Given the extensive history of brutality by Saddam Hussein's regime, there is no reason to believe that he would not resume these tactics were we to cease patrols. Whilst it is clear that Saddam's internal security organisations continue to persecute all opponents of the regime on the ground, without our continued presence in the air, he would be free to use his airforce to return to an all-out assault. The UK contribution to Op Northern Watch is provided by four Jaguar GR1a Tactical Reconnaissance aircraft and two VC-10 tankers who provide air-to-air refuelling to US and UK aircraft operating out of Incirlik, Turkey. The UK do not therefore take part in self-defence bombing operations in Northern Watch. There are approximately 200 UK personnel deployed on the operation.

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