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Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the mission types for British Forces. [38509]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 28 February 2002]: The broad missions we have identified for the armed forces, as set out in paragraph 29 of Defence Policy 2001, published in February last year, are:

Peacetime Security

To provide forces needed in peacetime to ensure the protection and security of the United Kingdom, to assist as required with the evacuation of British nationals overseas, and to afford military aid to the civil authorities in the United Kingdom, including military aid to the civil power, military aid to other Government Departments and military aid to the civil community.

Security of the Overseas Territories

To provide forces to meet any challenges to the external security of a British Overseas Territories (including overseas possessions and the sovereign base areas) or to assist the civil authorities in meeting a challenge to internal security.

Defence Diplomacy

To provide forces to meet the varied activities undertaken by the Ministry of Defence to dispel hostility, build and maintain trust, and assist in the development of democratically accountable armed forces (thereby making a significant contribution to conflict prevention and resolution).

Support to Wider British Interests

To provide forces to conduct activities to promote British interests, influence and standing abroad.

Peace Support and Humanitarian Assistance Operations

To contribute forces to operations designed to prevent, contain and resolve conflict, in support of international order and humanitarian principles, and to contribute to efforts to deal with humanitarian crises and disasters.

Regional Conflict and Crisis

To contribute forces for a regional conflict (but not an attack on NATO or one of its members) which, if unchecked, could adversely affect European security or which could pose a serious threat to British interests elsewhere, or to international security. Operations are likely to be carried out under the auspices of the UN or relevant regional security organisations.

Regional Aggression against NATO

To provide forces needed to respond to a regional crisis or conflict involving a NATO ally which calls for assistance under Article 5 of the Washington treaty.

Strategic Attack on NATO

To provide, within the expected warning and readiness preparation times, the forces required to counter a strategic attack against NATO.

These defence missions form a sound basis for planning, but they can be, and are, adjusted from time to time.

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the exercises outside Europe undertaken by the British Armed Forces in 2001 and the unit which took part. [38507]

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Mr. Ingram [holding answer 28 February 2002]: The exercises that UK Armed Forces took part in outside Europe are listed in the table:

Atlantic DriveAscension64 CRE
Turtle HeritageAscensionCVHQ RE
Turtle TrussAscension71 Engr Regt
LonglookAustraliaTri-Service Individuals
Suman WarriorAustralia1 D and D
Initial LinkBahrainE3D
Cygnet GooseBelize30 Sig Regt
Native TrailBelize1 RWF
Native TrailBelize7 RHA
Panther CubBelize1 RGBW
Panther CubBelize1 D and D
Panther CubBelize1 D and D
Panther CubBelize2 Para
Panther CubBelize2 Para
Panther CubBelize2 Para
SailfishBelize36 Engr Regt
Thirsty PantherBelize521 Stre
Diamond CutterBotswana1 R Irish
Ulu RajahBruneiCast North
Bass RockCanada22 Regt RA
Cross CheckCanadaC130
Fingals CaveCanadaKCR
Maple FlagCanada10 x JAG, 9 x F3, VC10
Maple FlagCanada10 x JAG, 9 x F3, VC10
Medicine ManCanada1 Staffords
Medicine ManCanada1G
Medicine ManCanadaKRH
Medicine ManCanadaRDG
Pond Jump WestCanada1 RGJ
Pond Jump WestCanada1 WG
Snow ShoeCanadaGren Gds
Snow ShoeCanadaGren Gds
Western VortexCanadaGR1 Sqns
Western VortexCanadaGR1 Sqns
Western VortexCanadaGR1 Sqns
Western VortexCanadaGR1 Sqns
Western VortexCanadaGR1 Sqns
Western VortexCanadaGR1 Sqns
Western VortexCanadaGR1 Sqns
Western VortexCanadaGR1 Sqns, F3 Sqn
Bell BuoyChileNCS Org
Bright StarEgyptPJHQ
Cape PetrelFalklandsCBFFI Forces
Cape PetrelFalklandsCBFFI Forces
Falkland SoundFalklands21 Sig Regt
Kelp DriveFalklands12(AS) Engr Bde
Kelp DriveFalklands12(AS) Engr Bde
Kelp DriveFalklands12(AS) Engr Bde
Kelp FireFalklands12(AS) Engr Bde
Purple StrikeFalklandsCBFFI Forces
Purple StrikeFalklandsCBFFI Forces
Sea TroutFalklands29 Regt RA
Red StripeJamaica1 PWO
Golden SandsJordan1 KORBR
Saffron SandsJordan1 Cheshire
Crab AppleKenya38 Engr Regt
Grand PrixKenya1 LI
Grand PrixKenya1 Para
Grand PrixKenya1 RRF
Mono PrixKenya1 RRW
Oak AppleKenya35 Engr Regt
Pine AppleKenya33 Engr Regt
Sharp PointKenya5 GS Med Regt
Lucky SentinelKuwaitJFHQ, 1 BDE(-)
Lads AdexMalaysiaHMS Gloucester
StardexMalaysiaHMS Gloucester, FDU, Nimrods
Burning BushMoroccoGib Regt
Himalyan BluebellNepal4 BN REME
Pacific KukriNew Zealand1 RGR
Boron MercuryOmanJFHQ & SIGS Sqn
Magic CarpetOmanJaguar
Magic RoundaboutOmanNimrod
Magic RoundaboutOmanNimrod
Magic RoundaboutOmanNimrod
Rocky LanceOman1 PWO
Saif Sareea 2Oman1(UK), ARMD Div, 1 Mech Bde, 4 Armd Bde, RDG, 4 Regt RA, 21 Engr Regt, 1 IG, 2 CS Regt RLC, 1 CS Med Regt, 1 BN REME, HMS Cornwall, HMS Monmouth, RFA Oakleaf, 11 Sqn RAF, 12 Sqn RAF, 617 Sqn RAF, No 1 ACC
Saif Sareea MapexOmanPJHQ, JFHQ
Adventure ExchangeTurkeyAMF(L) Elements
Anvil GhostTurkey1 RECCE Bde, 1 Arty Bde, 7 AD Bde, 29 Engr Regt, HQ CSSG, 3 Div
Air WarriorUSAGR7
Civil BridgeUSACA GRP
Cope ThunderUSA9 x F3, VC10
Cope ThunderUSA9 x F3, VC10
Flying RoseUSA12 Engr Bde
Flying RoseUSA12 Engr Bde
Georgian CormorantUSAJSCSC
ImpactUSA58 FD Sqn
Initial LookUSAHQ JFAC
Kernel BlitzUSAFDG
LeapfestUSAITC Catterick
Red FlagUSAGR4, F3, JAG, VC10
Red FlagUSAGR4, F3, JAG, VC10
Red FlagUSAC130, GR7
Red FlagUSAGR1/4
Red FlagUSAGR1/4
Red FlagUSAGR1/4
Rum PunchUSANimrod
Stonewall USA42 CDO
Stoneyrun/MillraceUSA3 Para
Torpedo FocusUSAGR 1
Unified EndeavourUSAJFAC HQ

6 Mar 2002 : Column 320W

Updated information indicates that British forces took part in 33 exercises (including one multinational exercise) in the USA in 2001 as listed in the table, compared with 29 unilateral and bilateral exercises identified in the answer I gave on 9 January 2002, Official Report, column 831W to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin).

6 Mar 2002 : Column 321W

Armed Forces Pensions

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to award armed forces pensions to those who served before 1975; and if he will make a statement. [39486]

Mr. Ingram: I have no plans to award armed forces pensions to those who served before 1975 and left before qualifying for benefits.

Armed Service Pensions were awarded to those who served before 1975 but only to those who completed the necessary qualifying periods of 22 years (from age 18 for other ranks) and 16 years (from age 21 for Officers). Prior to 1975 there was no requirement for pension schemes to preserve benefits for those who left the scheme early. The Armed Forces Pension Scheme is not unique in this respect; the same provisions applied to all pension schemes both in the public and private sector. However, the qualifying periods for the Armed Forces Pension Scheme were less than for most other schemes at that time. In addition, those who left before qualifying for pensions, but had completed nine years (for Officers) 12 years (for other ranks), were paid a gratuity. The provisions were changed in 1975 to meet with the requirements of the Social Security Act 1975 but, in keeping with the policy of successive Governments, the provisions were not made retrospective.


Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the potential for airships to contribute to (a) airborne early warning, (b) large cargo carrying, (c) surveillance operations, (d) anti-submarine warfare, (e) landmine removal and (f) naval minesweeping. [39927]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence is monitoring developments in airships and hybrid air vehicle (HAV) technology, as we do other novel concepts. Recent military airship trials and assessments, in the context of a specific surveillance capability requirement, together with commercial progress in this area gives us confidence that the technology is sufficiently mature to contribute to meeting future capability requirements.

Airships and HAVs have a number of generally common characteristics that need to be considered when assessing their suitability for particular roles. They are relatively cheap compared with manned winged or rotary aircraft; can loiter for sustained periods in suitable weather conditions; and are generally significantly larger and slower than other types of aircraft. Potentially, they could carry significantly more payload than a winged aircraft, although increases in lift capacity increase the overall size dramatically. Recent military trials and assessments have indicated that, while their size makes them relatively easy to visually identify and target, they are relatively difficult to target by other means, and difficult to destroy. Airships are generally expected to have less maintenance and infrastructure requirements than conventional air vehicles, and the challenges in manpower intensive ground handling have been largely overcome.

For airborne early warning, which is one type of surveillance operation, the potential to loiter for long periods could be a useful characteristic, although the high

6 Mar 2002 : Column 322W

speed winds at the altitudes required for large-area coverage can limit this ability. The high visibility of airships limit their suitability for some surveillance roles.

For large cargo carrying, although slower than other aircraft types, the potential carrying capacity of future airships could be attractive, as demonstrated by the commercial interest in developing them in this field. However, we currently plan for the UK's future strategic and tactical airlift requirements to be met from 2010 by a combination of C130 Hercules and A400M aircraft, and have no current endorsed requirement for additional strategic lift.

For anti-submarine warfare, airships and HAVs could in future provide a potent platform for maritime patrol, through, for example, monitoring dispersed sonar buoys. However, we have no additional endorsed requirement for maritime patrol for some time, given the procurement of the Nimrod MRA4 aircraft.

Research has been conducted into the possibility of using airships for the detection of minefields. While this research is primarily intended for military use, the possibility of humanitarian mine-clearance has also been addressed. The ability to detect minefields from an airship remains a probability, but it is unlikely that such a system would be able to find all the individual mines, particularly anti-personnel mines, and a complementary land-based location and clearance system will still be needed.

If HAVs that could land on water and use organic sonars or deploy unmanned underwater vehicles could be developed, their low sonar signature and relatively high speed compared with ships could be expected to have advantages for other types of anti-submarine warfare and naval minesweeping and hunting. Concept work is considering what contribution airships or HAVs might make to the solution for the Future Surface Combatant capability requirements, when the current frigate classes leave service. It is likely that concept work for future minesweeping/hunting requirements will consider what contribution these technologies might offer.

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the operational status is of the Skyship 6000 Airship ZH762; and what plans there are for further RAF trials with airships. [39926]

Mr. Ingram: Airship ZH762 was sold in 1998 following completion of trials for which it was purchased. There are currently no plans for any further RAF trials with airships.

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