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Anti-armour Technology

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the jobs created by the new anti-armour technology contract will be established; whether these will be permanent; and if he will make a statement. [67418]

Dr. Moonie: The contractor for the Next Generation Light Anti-Armour Weapon programme, Saab Bofors Dynamics, estimates that a total of 520 jobs will be created or sustained in the United Kingdom as a result of this contract. The timing of the creation of these posts and their permanency is a matter for the contractor and as such I cannot comment specifically. However, work on the programme has now started and production for the UK is expected to be complete by 2010. This could be extended if the contractor wins further orders from other customers.

Storm Shadow Cruise Missile

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost is of the Storm Shadow air launched cruise missile; and if he will make a statement. [67835]

Dr. Moonie: As reported in the 2001 Major Project Report, the total estimated procurement cost of the Storm Shadow conventionally armed stand-off missile project is £981 million. This figure includes development, production and initial support costs. Information on the cost of an individual missile would enable deductions to be made on the planned size of our Storm Shadow inventory. I am therefore withholding this information in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information which relates to Defence, Security and International Relations.

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Skill Force Initiative

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the expansion of his Department's sponsored Skill Force initiative to assist under-achieving youngsters in schools. [67705]

Dr. Moonie: The Skill Force scheme forms part of the Ministry of Defence's contribution to wider Government social exclusion policies. The initiative aims to prevent young people from feeling long-term disaffection with school and society. It is currently being piloted in 11 areas and in 47 schools in England and Scotland.

An integral part of the Skill Force pilot scheme has been rigorous and independent evaluation by the British Market Research Bureau. The most recent evaluation report, based on the two original schemes that started in September 2000 in Newcastle and Norfolk, has been completed. The report has shown that Skill Force has helped to maintain attendance rates of over 90 per cent. among children who would otherwise have been expected to display sharply declining attendance, sometimes leading to exclusion through years 10 and 11. Exclusions among participating children in these schools have been reduced by 72 per cent. compared with those predicted by the head teachers at the start of the scheme. A copy of the full report will be placed in the Library of the House.

The positive results from the independent evaluation have encouraged DfES to work with the MOD in offering Skill Force more widely. In response to the Government's Street Crime Initiative, Skill Force is one of the schemes 11 local education authorities have been invited to consider to help them to deliver part of DfES's Behaviour Improvement Programme. The LEAs concerned have all been in discussions with the MOD and a final decision on locations and schools is expected to be made in the next month. In addition, discussions are currently being held with a view to extending the pilot scheme to Wales. A decision is expected shortly.


Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the Eurofighter will be delayed beyond the end of the year. [67706]

Dr. Moonie: The Eurofighter In Service Date (ISD) is dependent on industry's ability to deliver an aircraft that meets the nation's requirements. The programme is hugely complex and therefore some risks are inevitable. As I stated in the initial announcement of the delay on 23 May 2002, Official Report, column 478W, nations have reviewed the programme with industry and we have jointly concluded that the ISD should be achieved towards the end of the year.

Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on (a) how many Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft he plans to purchase for the RAF, (b) how many aircraft there will be in each tranche to be ordered and (c) when confirmation for each tranche is planned to be completed; and what the equivalent plans were for Eurofighter procurement as at November 1998. [69862]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 15 July 2002]: The Ministry of Defence plans to purchase a total of 232 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft for the Royal Air Force. The

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contractual commitment for the first 55 aircraft was made in 1998. The order for a second tranche of 89 aircraft is planned for 2003; and we plan to order a third tranche of 88 aircraft in 2007. The planned numbers and timings are unchanged from those in place in November 1998.

Anti-air Missile System

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the procurement of a further five shipsets of the principal anti-air missile system; and if he will make a statement. [67709]

Dr. Moonie: It is intended that the requirement will be contracted by the end of the year, subject to the agreement of acceptable terms.

Mox Lead Test Assemblies

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library the minutes of the meeting between his Department's officials, French Government officials and United States Administration officials at the Bristol Abbey Wood establishment on 1 and 2 March 2001, in respect of the project to manufacture mox lead test assemblies. [68257]

Dr. Moonie: Mixed oxide (MOX) fuelled lead test assemblies are required for a Russian/US programme for the disposal of excess plutonium. There is an international project to manufacture the assemblies. The purpose of the meeting in March 2001 was to make provisional assessment of the technical and time-scale implications of incorporating surplus UK weapons grade plutonium into the assemblies. It has subsequently been agreed not to proceed in this manner. As the meeting touched on programme and planning matters within the authority of respective Governments, I am withholding the information requested under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Defence, Security and International Relations).


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of potential barriers to interoperability between Watchkeeper and (a) other elements of the ISTAR capability, (b) systems used by US forces and (c) systems used by other NATO forces; and if he will make a statement; [68675]

Dr. Moonie: In the current assessment phase of the Watchkeeper project we are considering proposals for more detailed assessment phase work from four potential prime contractors. Two of the companies will be selected to undertake a series of systems integration and assurance activities before we make our main investment decision. Studies conducted by the four contractors have not identified any significant barriers to achieving interoperability with other elements of ISTAR capability, whether national or NATO (including US). The platforms offered by the contractors within their proposed solutions

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are mutually compatible. We expect to announce the selection of the two companies to go forward into the next stage by the end of August 2002 and to select a preferred bidder to undertake demonstration and manufacture in the 2003–04 timescale.

Defence Projects

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is (a) the original in-service date, (b) the current in-service date, (c) the original estimated cost and (d) the current cost of the (i) advanced short range air-to-air missile, (ii) advanced landing ship logistics, (iii) Astute class submarines, (iv) Bowman, (v) directional infra-red counter measures, (vi) future aircraft carrier, (vii) future carrier borne aircraft, (viii) joint tactical information and distribution system, (ix) landing platform dock replacement, (x) Link 16 joint tactical information display system, (xi) microwave landing system, (xii) mine counter measures vessels, (xiii) NATO submarine rescue system, (xiv) primary casualty receiving ship, (xv) remote influence minesweeping system, (xvi) SeaGnat DLH project, (xvii) Sonar 2087, (xviii) Sting Ray Life Extension lightweight torpedo, (xix) support amphibious and battlefield rotocraft, (xx) type 45 destroyer, (xxi) airborne stand-off radar, (xxii) BattleGroup thermal imaging, (xxiii) combined arms tactical trainer, (xxiv) extended range ordnance/modular charge system, (xxv) future command and liaison vehicle, (xxvi) future engineer tanks, (xxvii) future integrated soldier technology, (xxviii) ground based air defence, (xxix) multi-role armoured vehicle, (xxx) Airbus A400M, (xxxi) beyond visual range air-to-air missile, (xxxii) deployable air command and control system, (xxxiii) Eurofighter, (xxxiv) future offensive air system, (xxxv) Nimrod MRA-4, (xxxvi) Skynet 5, (xxxvii) Storm Shadow conventionally armed stand off missile and (xxxviii) UK air command and control system. [67632]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 9 July 2002]: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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