Examination of witnesses (Questions 140-153)
WEDNESDAY 2 MAY 2001
WALMSLEY KCB AND
140. Have you had any second thoughts about
not buying the Block-4 Tactical Tomahawk?
(Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) We have, as you
know, bought missiles to replace the ones that we fired in Kosovo.
Your question refers to the TacTom. The answer is that we are
doing some work to see what will be necessary to make it possible
to use that missile from our existing submarines because, as I
am sure you know, it launches a different way, it is a vertical
launch as opposed to a horizonal launch missile. The cost of converting
submarines to put vertical launch arrangements on them is substantial
and the design problems are substantial. It may well be that the
missiles can be used in a tube launch fashion and some preliminary
feasibility work is being done that in area.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I think we are pretty confident
that is going to be all right, it just means spending money.
141. That brings me straight on to the next
question which is the issue of the relative mix required, the
balance you are seeking between air-launched and sea-launched
(Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) I am going to be
repeating myself again if I am not careful. The issue here is
what is the weight of fire that we are trying to put down on whatever
targets the commander ashore wants. There is an investment study
being conducted by my manoeuvre capability area, who are the customers,
the recipients, of fire support of all sorts, to see what they
would most like to have. If the conclusion of that is that we
need to have a heavier weight of Tactical Tomahawk missiles from
surface ships then we will see whether we can put that into the
programme. There is no technical reason at all why we should not
do so, the Type 45 has been designed with both the deck strength
and the magazine capacity to do that.
142. I am going to back, if I may, to my earlier
line of questioning. Is there not something rather incongruous
about the fact that for a generation now we have been spending
far more on the air defence of the Royal Navy than the air defence
of the United Kingdom, at least against missiles? I was recently
privileged to be present at a demonstration of the V2, a weapon
based on technology nearly 60 years old that killed 2,500 people.
We now have hugely greater conventional ballistic missiles in
the hands of growing numbers of people which can already reach
Southern Europe and in another few years will reach Britain. Is
there not something rather odd about the fact that we are spending
a fortune on a range of air defence systems for Royal Navy ships
to enable them to deliver anti-ground systems of one sort or another,
and yet we spend almost nothing on protection against conventional
missile threats to the United Kingdom?
Chairman: He is not going to answer this
(Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) I used to be in
the Royal Navy so you would expect me to say it was a jolly good
thing. As a matter of fact, by a long way the most expensive project
in the entire defence calender at the moment is the Eurofighter,
which seems to me like providing air defence.
143. Against ballistic missiles?
(Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) No, no, no. We
are also proposing to spend a lot of money, in fact I think it
is the second largest programme we have got, on an offensive air
capability which would certainly be directed, amongst other things,
at potential missile launchers. I think I feel fairly confident
that we are spending a lot of money in these two areas. As far
as the question of ballistic missile defence is concerned, obviously
that is an issue we will have to look at as and when we are directed
so to do.
Mr Brazier: Thank you.
144. The question could be answered by Baroness
Symons. If there is no election on the date that everybody anticipates
then the second advantage, or disadvantage, will be that the Minister
will be coming in and I am sure Mr Brazier can ask the question
of her because it is very much a political decision. Three brief
questions. Press reports of the C-130J having difficulties again,
are these exaggerated?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) The only press reports that
I have seen, Chairman, were associated with the deployment of
paratroopers from the aircraft. I have no knowledge of what led
to the press report which was about the hang-up consequences for
a paratrooper. It is true that we did try to deploy dummy paratroopers
and it is true that there was a contact between such a dummy and
a fuselage, but at no stage was this associated with trials of
simultaneous drops from the two side doors on both sides of the
aircraft. I just think that the report is a bit of a muddle and,
as usual, there is just a tiny element of truth in it. We are
absolutely confident that the C-130J, which is only flying at
the same speed as the other so it has got the same thrust as the
other aircraft, as the C-130K, will be satisfactory for this.
It is also simply not true, as one of the press reports said,
that the RAF had asked for ten extra C-130Ks to be kept back in
the inventory for paratroop drops. In fact, we have reduced the
number of C-130Ks we are going to keep, partly as a result of
our confidence in the C-130J.
145. When is it coming in?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) The C-130J is in service with
the Royal Air Force now and is doing its enhancement capability
trials to prove all these various different components of its
146. What is the target date for it to be operational?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I cannot remember the date for
the full operational capability. It is on its way.
147. Fifteen are already accepted. Maybe we
can volunteer some names for other than sacks of something to
be thrown out of the aircraft to test. Maybe the Lockheed Martin
executives to prove that everything is perfect. This was the cause
of the problem initially, I can recall, why Lockheed Martin had
considerable problems five or six years ago when they threw some
sacks out of the side simulating a parachute attack, so it is
rather ironic that this same problem appears to have cropped up,
although you have squashed any suggestion that there is much validity
in this, and I hope that is right. On another issue far closer
to you, the Tornado GR1/GR4 update.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) It is not a success story, Chairman,
but it is going to be. The operational capability of the aircraft
will come through starting from the summer of next year in full
and we expect to see Brimstone and Stormshadow and a number of
other weapons completely integrated on the GR4 aircraft by the
end of next year. It is a matter of enormous regret, and I know
that does not cut any mustard here and nor should it, but it simply
has been much more difficult on integration than we expected.
I think one of the first questions this morning asked me why were
we going to spend £600 million on Joint Strike Fighter for
UK national programmes. It is recognition that the integration
task of weapons in combat aircraft is absolutely the opposite
of trivial; it is a huge job. We need to recognise that and devote
more resources to it than we did in the case of the GR1 to GR4.
148. Are the ones which have been delivered
so far okay? Is the whole programme jeopardised?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) As with all these things, most
of it is software. The ones we have so far have a certain capability
and by the end of next year they will have a far greater capability
as the advanced software is loaded into their systems.
149. So the ones accepted so far will have to
go back to be completed?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I suspect the work is quite
capable of being done at operational stations. It is not hardware
modifications, I think it is just loading more noughts and ones
into the aircraft.
150. How does this relate to the introduction
of Enhanced Paveway, because Enhanced Paveway is intended to be
deployed with GR4? If GR4 is being delayed, does this delay the
in-service date of Enhanced Paveway?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I cannot remember the integration
date for Paveway.
(Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) I am afraid I cannot
either. We will let you know.
Mr Viggers: Thank you. You did tell us,
Admiral, that Enhanced Paveway would be in service later this
year, the previous documentation said October 2001, and obviously
if GR4 has been delayed and this delays Enhanced Paveway we would
like to know that.
151. I could not quite hear what was said a
little earlier and perhaps you can help me. Are we considering
buying the Tactical Tomahawk?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) Only if we should use any of
the missiles we currently have and use enough of them so the Government
and Admiral Blackham or his successor decides we should need to
152. When we met you a year ago you were a little
down-beat on the success in major procurement projects, and you
were about to be criticised by the National Audit Office, less
so by us, if I recall. Are you up-beat, down-beat, no mood swings?
How would you say the whole process has gone? I know we have picked
on a few where we have been critical but overall how satisfied
are you that the Smart procurement project is working or is likely
to work? More successful in the future?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I try not to be too up-beat
because I always think people would think, "Does he really
know what is happening?" The answer is, I am quite confident
we have the right prescription. I am really pleased with the energy
exhibited by the integrated project teams. It is a delight to
see. Of course, Chairman, we welcome you coming to see them again
any time. People who come down say, "Wow, that is different
from how the Procurement Executive used to seem." It has
energised, empoweredghastly wordreally ambitious
integrated project teams. So that is going well. The National
Audit Officeand actually I have heard Sir John Bourn even
say this in publicis quite cautious but when it says there
are signs of improvement, I regard that as at least one pat on
the back. We take enormous encouragement from that, my staff take
encouragement from that. We genuinely do have in the Defence Procurement
Executive a performance management system which means we know
what is going on month to month in a way which I think would be
recognised by somebody running a business, in a way which would
not be recognised by somebody who had served in the Procurement
Executive under previous arrangements. So actually I am up-beat
but I try not to show it in case people think I do not know what
153. Could we have that list of the 28,000 seafarers,
because if you are relying on the Whitstable fishing fleet, I
am afraid it has almost disappeared.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I will go back and have the
Chairman: I do not think Julian wants
all the names!
Mr Brazier: Just the break-down!
Chairman: That is our last session on
procurement unless the Baroness is dragged before us screaming
in two weeks' time. Thank you very much. We have always found
your evidence refreshing because you are on the back foot most
of the time but displaying a degree of honesty that is not necessarily
replicated on every single occasion. We wish you the very best
of luck. We will be watching very carefully, whether we are on
the Committee or not, the success with which we manage to procure
weapons for our Armed Forces in the future. Thank you both for
2 Note by witness: The recent difficulties on
the Tornado GR4 Mid Life Update, which have now been resolved,
have not delayed the in service date of Enhanced Paveway. We are
confident that the Enhanced Paveway will be in service by the
end of October 2001 and that we will have the aircraft to operate
Note by witness: CDP's statement that 28,000 UK seafarers
currently serve was drawn from the United Kingdom Seafarers Analysis
1999 (Centre for International Transport Management, London Guildhall
University, ISBN 1899 764 16X) which stated that, as at 30 June
1999, there were 28,085 UK Seafarers comprising of 15,897 Officers,
779 Cadets and 11,409 Ratings.