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Type 45 Destroyer

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if the type 45 destroyer will regularly operate a helicopter; [6979]

Dr. Moonie: On current plans, we expect that the first type 45 destroyer will enter service with the Royal Navy in 2007 and that the last will enter service in 2014.

We have yet to decide where the type 45 destroyers will have their base port. The decision is the subject of on-going work which will also take account of the base porting requirements of other vessels in the procurement programme such as the Future Aircraft Carrier and the Future Surface Combatant.

The forward equipment programme includes funding for up to 12 type 45 destroyers. Capability upgrades included in the type 45 incremental acquisition plan will be funded within the type 45 programme budget. Other capability upgrades, including those to reflect future changes in defence requirements and technology advances, would be funded as appropriate.

The currently planned complement of the type 45 is approximately 190 personnel, of whom around 20 will be officers and 170 other ranks. We are continuing to

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examine the scope for driving down the complement even further and to introduce a more flexible and adaptable style of crewing. Accommodation standards will be significantly better than in earlier classes of warship.

BAE Systems Electronics, the Prime Contractor, has selected a consortium comprising Alenia Marconi Systems and BAE Systems Combat and Radar Systems to develop and manufacture a Command System, known as the Combat Management System, specifically for the type 45.

Assuming a class of 12 type 45s, we expect that nine or 10 ships would, on average, be available at any one time to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet for tasking, while two or three would be undergoing maintenance, including one or two in refit.

In most operations we currently expect to have a Lynx helicopter embarked on the type 45 destroyer. The type 45 will also be interoperable with the Merlin helicopter. The type 45 destroyer will be a versatile platform, able to operate a variety of other helicopters; the ship's large flight deck can take helicopters up to and including Chinook size.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support the Government are providing to those countries seeking to join NATO in building up their armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [8031]

Mr. Hoon: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made clear, we support the further enlargement of NATO when the political and military conditions agreed at the 1997 Madrid and 1999 Washington Summits are met. To support this process, we are assisting aspirants with their preparations through the Membership Action Plan, which was launched at the 1999 Washington Summit. The main objectives are to promote defence reform and restructuring within a democratic context and to support the development of flexible, modern armed forces capable of contributing to peace-keeping operations. Assistance takes many forms including: English language training to support interoperability; the secondment of military and civilian advisers to aspirant countries; the provision of a wide range of training opportunities including Non-Commissioned Officer training at the permanent British Military Advisory and Training Team based in the Czech Republic; exercise opportunities in the UK and in aspirant countries; seminars on specialist subjects; and high-level visits.

Sustained Hypersonic Flight Experiment

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the Sustained Hypersonic Flight Experiment programme is expected to cost; for how many years the programme is projected to last; and if he will make a statement. [7337]

Dr. Moonie: The Sustained Hypersonic Flight Experiment is an experimental programme with the primary aim of obtaining vital engineering data to allow the Ministry of Defence to determine the credibility and risk levels associated with the development and future possible procurement of hypersonic cruise missiles.

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The programme is expected to last for six years. The first year is a preliminary study costing £172,000. The cost to MOD for the following five years is expected to be approximately £1 million per annum.

The programme will be reviewed at the end of the first year and again at the end of the third year to ensure its aims remain viable and that the project has a manageable level of technical risk before continuation funding is released.

An important part of the preliminary study phase is to seek international collaborative partners to increase the overall value of this research programme to MOD.

Small Arms

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to which countries the UK has exported small arms; how much revenue was generated from such sales in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement. [7338]

Dr. Moonie: The Government's Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls (Part III) provide details of the number of weapons and small arms exported, by country. Information on the total value of guns, small arms and parts exported in each of the last five years has been published in the Ministry of Defence publication "UK Defence Statistics 2001" (Table 1.13), which is available in the Library of the House. In both cases the definition, which is based on Customs Tariff codes, includes large as well as small calibre weapons.

The UK is not a major exporter of small arms. It is Government policy that small arms which are declared surplus by the Ministry of Defence—other than automatic weapons which are routinely destroyed—are made available only to Governments, for use by acceptable military, paramilitary and police organisations, either directly or through duly licensed entities authorised to procure weapons.

Long Range Strike Weapons

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will increase spending on long range strike weapons; and if he will make a statement. [8032]

Dr. Moonie: The UK invests a significant amount of money in its long range strike weapons capability. The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile has already demonstrated its worth in Kosovo and the current operation against international terrorism; the Tornado GR1 to GR4 conversion is proceeding well, with upgraded aircraft now in service; new GPS Interim Precision Guided Bombs are due to enter service at the end of this month; and we are planning to take delivery of the Stormshadow conventional air launched stand off missile next year.

The UK's requirements for long range deep strike weapons are, however, kept under constant review. Decisions on whether there is a need for increased spending will be taken as and when gaps in the UK's existing capability are identified.

We are also currently reviewing our future requirements for long range strike weapons as part of the Future Offensive Air Capability Study. This study is examining the deep strike capability that the UK will need

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in the 2015–20 timeframe, and will inform decisions on a number of equipment projects, including the Future Offensive Air System.

Meteor Air-to-Air Missile

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the projected cost is of his Department's collaborative effort to develop, produce, and support the Meteor Beyond-Visual-Range-Air-to-Air Missile; how much of this development will be carried in the UK; which UK companies are involved in this project; and if he will make a statement. [7323]

Dr. Moonie: To the UK, the whole life cost of the Meteor missile will be in the region of £1.5 billion. This figure includes the cost of development, production and in-service support. Some 35 per cent. of the work undertaken during the development phase will be carried out in the UK, and matches the UK's financial contribution to that phase.

Matra BAE Dynamics (UK) (MBD) will be the prime contractor for the Meteor programme with Alenia Marconi Systems, Royal Ordnance, Roband, Fairey Hydraulics, BAE Systems—Systems and Sensors Division, and Missile and Space Batteries acting as first level UK sub-contractors.

Subject to conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding with all of our partner nations, and negotiation of satisfactory contractual terms and conditions with MBD, we hope to be able to place a demonstration and manufacture contract for Meteor by the end of this year.

Ministerial Visits

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will list the official overseas visits undertaken by Ministers in his Department in each year since May 1997, indicating (a) the cost in (i) cash and (ii) real terms, (b) the number and grade of (i) civil servants and (ii) special advisers accompanying Ministers and (c) the number of official engagements or meetings undertaken on each visit; and if he will make a statement; [6939]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 15 October 2001, Official Report, column 823W, to the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond).

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