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Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he intends that in the long-term the SSN fleet should continue to carry land-attack missiles; [143338]

Dr. Moonie: The Royal Navy operates Tomahawk Block IIIC missiles. As was demonstrated in Kosovo, Tomahawk Block IIIC missiles are highly effective weapons, which fully meet our requirements for a coercive capability in terms of accuracy, weight of ordnance and the ability to attack the likely target set. At present, we foresee a long-term requirement for this system to be operated by our SSNs.

Following the Kosovo campaign, an additional order of Tomahawk missiles was placed with the US. Upon completion of the outstanding order we will have a full inventory of Block IIIC missiles.

In the event that further Block IIIC missiles were expended during future conflicts, the Tomahawk Block IV missiles (also known as Tactical Tomahawk or Tactom) would represent the only means of procuring additional Tomahawk missiles. At present Tactom is intended only as a vertical launch weapon and therefore would not be suitable for firing from UK SSNs. However, in common with the UK, the US has identified a requirement for a horizontal launch variant of Tactom as not all of its SSNs are fitted with vertical launchers. Initial joint research has demonstrated the feasibility of developing a horizontal launch variant of Tactom.

The development of a horizontal launched variant of Tactom represents a more cost effective route than procuring vertical launchers. Accordingly there are no plans to fit Astute class SSNs with vertical launcher capable of firing Tactom. There are currently no plans to equip the Type 45 destroyer with a land attack capability, however, the design of the Type 45 would allow the incorporation of such a launcher should the requirement arise.

Procurement Programme

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will itemise the efficiency savings so far achieved in the defence equipment procurement programme. [143327]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answers which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence gave on 23 October 2000, Official Report, column 33W, to the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key), and on 27 November 2000, Official Report, column 415W, to the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. St. Aubyn). These costing

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reductions were identified across a broad range of equipment programmes including Eurofighter and the Rapier Air Defence Missile.


Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what time scale he has set to fit all Type 23 frigates with stern sonar; [143348]

Dr. Moonie: Subject to approval, we expect to place a contract for Sonar 2087 early in 2001, and for it to be fitted to all Type 23s. Sonar 2087 is a tactical, variable-depth, active and passive sonar system which will operate with the Type 23's existing bow-mounted active Sonar 2050: the former system will provide a long-range picture with the latter filling in the nearer range.

Changes to the planned in-service date of Sonar 2087 were made in recent financial planning rounds, based on careful consideration of competing defence priorities and the need to maintain coherence between Sonar 2087 and the Type 23 refit programme. This is part of our normal process for making best use of the defence budget to meet changing priorities. Subject to completion of contractual negotiations with the successful prime contractor, Sonar 2087 is expected to enter operational service around 2005 when initial trials are complete. The precise shipfitting programme is also subject to contractual negotiations.

Rapier Missile

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the ability of the Rapier missile to provide adequate ground-based air defence for British forces for the foreseeable future; [143342]

Dr. Moonie: The in-service Rapier Mark 2 missile will, as part of the Rapier missile system, provide short-range ground based air defence against the envisaged threat out to around 2010.

Plans to upgrade the air defence capability provided by the Rapier missile system from around 2010 are being studied as part of the UK's Integrated Ground Air Defence (IGBAD) programme. The IGBAD programme takes a holistic approach to investment in the UK's GBAD capability in the 2010-20 time frame. The goal of the programme is to reduce the cost of ownership of GBAD equipment, and to maintain operational capability and effectiveness against the emerging threat within budgetary limitations.

Upholder Class Submarines

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timetable is for refurbishment of the Upholder class submarines; and when each one will be ready for delivery to the Canadian Government. [143048]

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Dr. Moonie [holding answer 15 December 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend Lord Robertston, the then Secretary of State for Defence, gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Healey) on 6 April 1998, Official Report, column 56W, and to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) on 23 October 2000, Official Report, column 30W, and 19 December 2000, Official Report, columns 89-90W, and to the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) on 31 October 2000, Official Report, column 341W. Canada has acquired the four ex-Royal Navy Upholder class submarines, which are powered by diesel-electric engines. The acquisition takes the form of an eight-year lease with an option of outright purchase. Each of the submarines is being refurbished (reactivated) to a standard acceptable to the Royal Navy.

The first of the refurbished submarines was handed over to Canada on 6 October 2000. The three remaining submarines are being refurbished now. A revised programme for handover of the three remaining submarines has recently been released to Canada and identifies handover dates of July 2001 for Boat 2 (HMS Unicorn), January 2002 for Boat 3 (HMS Ursula) and May 2002 for Boat 3 (HMS Upholder).

Navy (Capabilities)

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if the Royal Navy has sufficient manpower to keep two carriers operational in a sea going role throughout 2001; [143053]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 15 December 2000]: The Royal Navy does have sufficient manpower to keep two carriers operational, but during 2001 HMS Ark Royal will be coming out of refit and there will be times when manpower will be in transition to her from one of the other carriers. The transition plan could be reviewed immediately should the operational need arise to deploy two carriers. HMS Ark Royal will rejoin the Fleet capable of operating the new Merlin helicopter and the RN and RAF Harrier aircraft from Joint Force Harrier--a cost-effective way of maintaining a potent fixed-wing carrier capability until the new carriers enter service in 2012 and 2015.

There are no plans to place HMS Invincible in reserve. She will be used in an operational sea going role until April 2001 when she will enter a period of reduced readiness prior to commencing her refit period later in the year. HMS Invincible is currently programmed to return to operational status in 2003 on completion of the refit.

HMS Illustrious's next refit is scheduled to start in autumn 2002 and is expected to take about 23 months.

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On current plans, the expected service lives of HMS Invincible, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious will be 30 years.

Storm Shadow Missile

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the Joint Strike Fighter's software architecture will allow for the integration of the Storm Shadow missile. [143330]

Dr. Moonie: While the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) remains a strong contender to meet our Future Carrier Borne Aircraft requirement, no decision has yet been taken on its procurement.

The design of the JSF aircraft will allow for integration of weapons, throughout its life, and provision of a flexible software architecture to accommodate a wide variety of weapons will be a fundamental aspect of the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase contract.

The competing contractors for the phase are aware of the UK's Storm Shadow needs should we select JSF, and therefore there is no reason to believe that the aircraft's software architecture would prevent integration of the missile.

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