Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Replies to further written answers submitted to the Ministry of Defence concerning oral evidence given by CDP and DCDS(EC) (20 June 2000)

Q1.   What sort of "smart default points are the MoD likely to use to manage progress with the BVRAAM programme, once a contract is negotiated?

  A1.  A. There are four smart default milestones for BVRAAM.

    —  Boost/sustain motor transition and sustain motor operation at high angles of attack and side slip.

      The transition from boost motor to sustain motor and sustained motor operation will be demonstrated through trials, including wind tunnel testing, culminating in ground launch firings.

    —  The control of an asymmetric airframe.

      The control of the airframe aerodynamics will be demonstrated through a series of tests culminating in ground launch firings.

    —  Aircraft/missile misalignment.

      The effect of static and dynamic misalignment of the missile and platform will be quantified through mathematical modelling validated by air carriage trials.

    —  Electronic Protection Measures.

      Performance of the missile against jamming and other countermeasures will be demonstrated through simulation in a synthetic environment leading to verification through live firings.

Q2.   What arguments are there for tying the Eurofighter partners to their declared requirements for specific aircraft numbers, and what are the financial consequences of any country changing the numbers they will take (QQ 20, 21)?

  A2.  The Eurofighter Production Investment (PI) and Production Memorandum of Understanding(MOU 6) signed by Partner Nations in December 1997 committed the Partners to a total of 620 aircraft, of which 232 are for the RAF, to the procured in three tranches. In addition to the commitment in the MOU, the Partner Nations are contractually committed to the production of the first tranche of 148 aircraft, 55 of which are for the RAF.

  The MOU is specific in that the Participants have entered into the arrangement with the firm intention of completing the PI and Production phases. Therefore, before any changes are made to the aircraft numbers are specified in the MOU, detailed consultation amongst the Participants is required. The MOU requires a minimum of six months for this process.

  The provisions of the MOU require any Participant reducing his offtake to compensate the other Participants if they suffer an increase in their production costs as a result of the reduction; the amount to be based upon the change in unit cost of an aircraft. In addition, the Participant reducing the numbers would still be required to meet its obligations for Production Investment and the costs of any resultant change to workshare arrangements arising from a change in aircraft numbers (production workshare has been calculated on the basis of aircraft offtake). The MOU limits the cost liability arising from any change to the value of the Participant's contribution to the entire PI/Production phase ie PI plus aircraft offtake declared at the time the MOU was signed.

  Any change affecting the aircraft in the first tranche would also necessitate re-negotiation of the existing contract.

Q3.   Have any aircraft in the MoD's current operational inventory suffered fatigue problems because of use of their cannon?

  All aircraft are subject to inspection after a period of planned operation. Only two Jaguar aircraft, out of a fleet of 78, have shown signs of damage in the gunbays which, although unconfirmed, has been attributed to the firing of cannon. No damage has been found in the gunbays of either Sea Harrier FA2 or Tornado GR1/4 and F3, the other aircraft in the MoD's current operational inventory that are equipped with cannon.

 Q4.   The committee would like a note on the operational rationale for the MoD's decision not to fit a canon on its second and subsequent batches of Eurofighter, and whether the JSF and US F-22 are planned to have a cannon (QQ 34/35, 303)?

  A4.  We now assess that the operational value of a gun on Eurofighter is very limited, particularly bearing in mind the historical pattern of operations over the last decade and the aircraft's improved short-range armament. The combat value in retaining the gun on Eurofighter in any role is more than outweighed by its support, fatigue and training cost implications.

  Since the introduction of air-to-air missiles, the gun has been used for very close range engagements where the target was inside a short-range air-to-air missile's minimum range. The improved minimum range capability and agility of the ASRAAM missiles with which the aircraft will be armed greatly decrease the likelihood of such engagements. ASRAAM, including a Helmet Mounted Sight targetting system, offers the pilot a shot with a very high probability of success in almost every conceivalbe situation. And were these missiles to be exhausted, it is unlikely that a cannon would be of use as the risk would remain that aircraft could be engaged by missiles from well outside the gun's range. Furthermore, in order to use the gun the pilot would have to point the aircraft directly at the target, thereby making less effective the aircraft's integrated Defensive Aids Sub-System (whose towed decoys operate best when the aircraft is not head on to the threat) for the small probability of a successful gun shot.

  Additionally, firing "warning shots across the bow" with a gun is not an effective means of coercion in modern operations. The cockpit environment of modern aircraft is such that the pilot is extremely unlikely to hear such warning shots and would only see them if they were tracer rounds. The value of such a display against a civilian aircraft is dubious and may be misconstrued by a military aircraft. And in air-to-ground combat it is difficult to justify the relatively indiscriminate nature of gun firing in an age of precision-guided munitions, with which Eurofighter will be armed.

This limited value cannot compensate for the disadvantages of retaining the gun, including:

    —  the recoil shock effects on the electronics (approximately 4 tons recoil shock 30 times a second);

    —  the corrosive effects of the exhaust gas;

    —  airframe fatigue, where the weight of 80kg of ammunition can add substantial loads at the wing roots of the aircraft during high G-force manoeuvres;

    —  a range of training costs, including the provision of new targets and the increased demands on the Hawk aircraft towing the targets; and

    —  the environmental damage of additional lead pollution in training on UK ground attack ranges or over the sea.

  It is not currently planned to fit an internal gun to the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of JSF, although it will be able to carry an externally mounted cannon which can be put on and removed from the aircraft for particular missions. Other JSF variants are currently being designed with the capability for an internal gun, although no firm decisions have been taken on fitment. We understand that the F-22 is planned to carry an internal gun.

Q5.   What is the programme for the C-130J aircraft being ready for operational use (Q 83)?

  A5.  the first C-130J for squadron use was delivered to RAF Lyneham in November 1999. The RAFC-130J was cleared for limited use in the strategic transport role on 26 January 2000 to enable crew training to commence. Full clearance to operate in the strategic transport role, including the carriage of palletised cargo, is planned to be achieved by September 2000, when the first squadron crews complete their training on the aircraft. It is planned that full clearance to operate in the tactical role, including air dropping of personnel and stores, will be achieved in the latter part of 2001. Aircraft deliveries and crew conversion training will continue in parallel with the clearance programme, with the full number of aircraft (except those being used on the clearance programme) being delivered by late 2001. Following the necessary work-up training in the tactical role, and subject to any aircraft being in routine maintenance, it is expected that the full number of 25 aircraft together with crews trained across the whole spectrum of tactical operations will be available for tasking by early 2003.

Q6.   What is the level of security on the personal role radios being introduced for any units (Q 165)

  A6.  The Personal Role Radio (PRR) will not provide electronic encryption, but will derive its security primarily from its short range—typically 500m in open terrain whilst being used tactically. The nature of information passed over the PRR, which is for use at the lowest tactical levels, will be very short term and localised: "go left", "I'm in position", etc, rather than detailed orders for longer term operations.

Q7.   What arrangements are the MoD putting in place to ensure that the Type-45 destroyer is deigned in such a way that land-attack missiles such as Tomahawk could be used, and for which batch of Type-45's would it be possible for such missiles to be carried (Q 247)

  A7.  The Type 45 Destroyer is being designed from the outset to allow the fitting of a vertical launcher suitable for a variety of weapons (including missiles such as Tomahawk) to every ship in the class, should a funded requirement be raised for this capability.

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