Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum from the Ministry of Defence (18 November 2002)

What measures would be involved in the "limited desertification" of Challenger 2 (CR 2) and possibly other vehicles, subsumed within the bids for the current equipment programme, and what would be the cost of such measures? How many of each vehicle type would be enhanced in this way? What would be the timescales for such modification?

  Modifications involved in a "limited desertification" of CR2 would include oil health monitoring, extended and better sealed side skirts and longer life air filters. The current equipment planning round is examining options to modify up to two armoured brigades (246 tanks.) The cost of such measures is estimated to be in the region of £15 million. We are also working on modifications to overcome the problems the AS90 has encountered with operating in high temperatures . Again, the current planning round is examining options to modify up to three regiments of AS90 (96 vehicles) to bring them up to full A1 environmental compliance. The estimated cost should be in the region of £20 million. There are no plans for similar modifications to the Warrior AFV.

What desertification measures have been introduced since the conclusion of Saif Sareea II? What is the current desertification state of the Challenger 2?

  The problems experienced by Challenger 2 (CR 2) on Exercise Saif Sareea II were mainly related to the ingestion of large quantities of sandy dust (the filters on CR 2 were being challenged by up to 25kgs of dust per hour.) Investigations continue into how best to mitigate this, including recently completed trials by the MoD's Armoured Trials and Development Unit exploring in-house dust reduction measures. In addition, the design authority, Vickers is working on permanent dust reduction measures; these are being trialed at the moment and the results should be available by the end of the year.

  The current "desertisation state" of the CR2 remains unchanged since it was accepted into service. However we have identified measures to improve CR2's performance in desert conditions which can be implemented in a short timescale.

What are the options being considered for HMS Nottingham's future, and when will such decisions be made?

  The options for HMS Nottinghams's future are to pay her off or to undertake repairs. A decision has yet to made. She will be repaired only if it is cost effective to do so, taking operational and capability requirements fully into account. To inform the decision, three companies were invited to attend the ship in Australasia to assess the damage and to compete, without commitment to the MoD pending a decision on the way forward, for any potential repair work. The competition was restricted to the three dockyard companies—Devonport Management Ltd (DML) at Devonport, Babcock Support Services Ltd (BSSL) at Rosyth and Fleet Support Ltd (FSL) at Portsmouth—with the necessary in depth knowledge and experience of repairing and maintaining Type 42 Destroyers in their systems.

  Assessments of the three prospective tenders and the decision on the Nottingham's future are expected to be announced the week before the Heavy Lift Ship makes landfall in the UK around 12 December. If the decision is to undertake repairs, the expectation is that the Heavy Lift Ship will deliver Nottingham to the nearest suitable point to the selected repair yard.

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