Examination of Witness (Questions 220
WEDNESDAY 1 MAY 2002
220. So would you agree that we have less of
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) No, forgive me, but
I made clear that if I could I would have preferred to have retained
a viable Sea Harrier in service because we will be without one
of the layers of air defencethe aircraft layerbut
we will have many other layers and a number of them will be substantially
improved. The Type-45 will be a substantial improvement over the
Type-42. So it is not the case that we are going to have a worse
capability in the Type-45 than we had in the Type-42, it is the
case that the Type-45 does not provide the same capability as
the Sea Harrier. Given the strengthening of that layer, given
the risks involved and the money and technical risk involved with
the Sea Harrier upgrade, then that balance in investment made
221. The technical risk of upgrading the Sea
Harrier I still have not properly grasped, and I would be grateful,
when you write to the Committee, if you could cover that in some
detail. If it is just about fitting engines into these planesand
you yourself admitted that could be overcomeI am still
not altogether sure what technical risks or gambles there still
are about that. I am inclined to think that the greater risk is
that you take out the Sea Harrier and replace it with a new Type-45
with an immature missile defensive system which cannot deliver
the same capability; there has to be a risk attached with that.
I would be interested to know where your organisation comes in
when deliberating on or assessing that risk.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) The Type-45 will be
delivered with a missile system that will be maturing rather than
222. That is a bit like saving money and not
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) No, I do not think
that is quite the case. It is mature against the threats it will
face at that time but it is not mature against the kind of threats
it might face seven or eight years further on, so it will need
to be developed continually.
223. What does the Type-45 missile give to the
fleet and to that ship in the way of protection in range as compared
with what the Sea Harrier could give to the fleet under its existing
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) First of all, the Type-45
has a long-range radar and it has Samson radar, which is a world-beating
radar. Those two together will give it a coverage of up to 400
224. You have got to hit what is coming at you.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Indeed you have. So
it has got extensive coverage. It has got extensive capability
to counter electronic counter-measures because of the particular
beam-shaping principles that we use with the Samson radar. It
has got two types of missile, a long-range one and short-range
one, at very high speed; the missiles use the piff-paff nose-vectoring
(?) when they get close to the target, such as you see on spacecraft.
So in a number of tests the missiles have actually hit the target.
225. That is short-range.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) No, there is a longer
range and there is a shorter range missile. For obvious reasons
I would not want to go into the details of the ranges here. So
they are going to be highly capable against the most sophisticated
missile threat against ships.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Yes, absolutely. Of
course, there is the overall command-and-control system that goes
along with this. The radar is going to be able to deal with hundreds
of tracks at once, the command-and-control system is going to
be able to deal with more than 10 targets simultaneously, and
the whole process is automated. It really is a highly capable
system. We also have to think about the environment in which our
ships are more likely to be operating. We have moved away from
the blue-water, open ocean conflict to more littoral conflicts.
Given the problems that exist there, with hostile terrain and
overflight on hostile terrain, with the masking that is involved,
we are very much more interested these days in shorter range and
higher reactive systems to threats that pop up at short notice.
Again, the Type-45 is admirably suited to that.
227. You made a very interesting point about
the flexibility of the Type-45 and you recognise that most of
the projected conflicts we could be involved in will be close
to shore. Can the Type-45 with the PAAM system actually be deployed
as an air defence for land forces?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Yes.
228. It can. Effectively?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) It depends. It depends
where the land forces are, it depends what the surrounding terrain
is going to be like. I would not suggest for one moment that land
forces ought to rely solely on Type-45 for air defence cover,
but can it make a contributionabsolutely.
229. Can I then develop the issue about the
Type-42's upgrade to carry a different type of missile, like the
Tomahawk? There was a suggestion that the Tomahawk, at some stage,
will be fitted to it. When would you suspect that the Type-45
would be in a position to be able to offer air defence and a very
offensive, useful weapon like the Tomahawk? Where do you see this
in the phasing of the commissioning of these ships?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) We have not made any
decisions on that yet. We have not made decisions on the surface-to-surface
guided weapon, either Harpoon, which it could take, or fitting
Tomahawk to it. At the moment, of course, we have submarine-launched
Tomahawk and we will shortly be getting the Storm Shadow air-launched
missile. So we have a complementary missile system there. The
issue of launching Tomahawk from surface ships is something that
we keep under consideration, and we have reached no decisions
yet, I think is all that I will say. It is something that we do
230. Without increasing the bulk of the ship
too much, it is possible to put Tomahawk missiles on to it without
downgrading its air defence role?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) All the indications
so far are that it will be entirely possible to put it on. A ship
can only, obviously, carry so much in the way of armaments, so
I would hesitate to say we could do everything all the time.
231. I would hate to see us needing two ships
to do two different roles; one hopes that we can have one ship
for each. My final point is about the link between the Type-45
and what it will be able to doits capabilitywhen
it comes into service, as opposed to what it is going to be like
in the year 2016 when the final ships are in the water, and how
many Sea Harriers a Type-45's capability can actually replace.
I am interested in this scenario that the Sea Harrier will be
redundant anyway once the Type-45 comes into service.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) I would not claim that
and I do not think I have claimed that. As I say (repeating myself,
I know) I would rather be able to keep a viable Sea Harrier capability
in service until it is replaced by the Joint Combat Aircraft.
I do not see the Type-45 as a direct replacement for its capability.
What I do say is that given the nature of the likely operational
environment and the demand that is going to place upon defence
and the need for highly reactive, short-range systems, the strengthening
of that particular layer of the air defence system represented
by the anti-air warfare destroyer is a very valuable addition
to our capability.
232. I would understand if you could not answer
this, but how many Sea Harriers are needed to tackle the number
of simultaneous air threats that it is projected a Type-45 could
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) It is impossible to
say because the Type-45, for example, could deal with very fast,
low-flying missiles. The Sea Harrier just could not deal with
those at all. However, of course, it might, depending on how they
were launched, have been able to deal with an aircraft which launched
such missiles. So it really is not possible to draw a direct comparison
between the two.
233. Air Marshal, can I ask you one quick question?
You have talked about the cost of the upgrade. Given that the
Sea Harrier is doing a great job as it stands, given that there
is not just a twelve-month but a very serious gap in terms of
years, why not just let the Sea Harrier carry on as is?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) There are a number
of specific shortcomings, which I would not want to go into in
open session, which mean that the circumstances in which it could
be usefully employed narrow dramatically after 2006. We can certainly
provide more information on that.
234. We have facilities for storing sensitive
documentation. Just a couple of questions before we finish on
the Type-42/45. The fleet of Type-42 destroyers began their operational
lives in the Cold War, although I understand even in the Cold
War the MoD was thinking of refining its concept and weapon systems.
To what extent has the requirement for a maritime anti-air capability
changed since the end of the Cold War?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) I think the most substantial
change is the one to which I have already referred, which is the
need for air defence in the littoral environment as opposed to
air defence in the open ocean. This is a reflection of the change
in the employment pattern of sea power in the round. Sea power
operations are much more about littoral operations than open ocean
fighting. The consequences of that are as I have described: operating
in a cluttered environment, close to shore and the inability always
to see out to the range one would wish and, therefore, the need
to be able to react at very short notice to incoming threats.
235. If there is anything else perhaps you could
let us know. Perhaps it is not fair asking an RAF man about maritime
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) That is the fundamental
change, and it has affected all areas of naval warfare. I have
referred to the air defence implications, but, of course, there
are anti-submarine warfare implications as well.
236. The previous Defence Committee produced
a report on the Common New Generation Frigate. In that
Inquiry the MoD told that Committee that the number and mix of
Type-45s and Future Surface Combatantsset by the SDR at
12 and 20 respectivelywould be subject to "continuing
critical operational analysis". Is this an area in which
you see scope for revision?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) The Strategic Defence
Review, in a number of areas, specified numbers. The numbers were
drawn to a large extent from the sorts of capabilities that would
be seen within the various platforms against the sort of threats
that they might face. Both of those things evolved over time.
My business is about producing capabilities, not specific numbers.
So what I am interested in is actually how we get the job done.
If a system becomes more capable it is entirely possible that
you might need fewer of them, but of course there are other considerationsconcurrency,
for example; one ship cannot be in two places at once, obviously.
So we have to take all that into account. My business is capability,
so I will define what we think the capability needs to be, and
when we see what the potential solutions are, when these are produced
by the integrated project team, then that will lead us through
a process of operational analysis to determine what the precise
numbers requirement is. So I suppose the short answer to your
question is yes, of course, we keep it under review.
237. Can I ask one quick question, which goes
back to the Sea Harrier replacement. I actually feel that possibly
it is game, set and match to those who believe there is a significant
gap when they are phased out in the defence fleet, as opposed
to the argument the MoD is putting. You are taking 32 aircraft
out of commission with the Sea Harriers' departure. Was the option
of upgrading ten of them, so that you would have five aircraft
available for any one air carrier deployment and five land-based
for maintenance etc, ever seriously looked at as an option? Is
it something that is still potentially in the melting pot?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) I cannot answer the
specific question as to whether that option was looked at. What
I would say is that the risk and the cost of improving the capability
is largely involved with figuring out how to do it. Once you have
done that, doing it for ten aircraft as opposed to five is not
usually that much
238. As opposed to 30.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Indeed. In other words,
it is the up-front cost that is important in figuring out the
solution. That is going to be the same no matter how many aircraft
you are going to upgrade.
Chairman: Thank you. We have a few questions
now on the Joint Strike Fighter, the Harrier replacement.
239. Air Marshal, obviously the replacement
for the Harrier, the Joint Strike Fighter, is the ultimate gain
in terms of what we need in capacity terms. What additional enhancement
in capacity terms will we get from the Joint Strike Fighter as
opposed to an upgraded Harrier?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) We will get modern
systems, we will get a substantial level of stealth integrated
to the aircraft, we will get substantial range, we will get substantial
payload capability and we will get substantial improvements in
supportability and cost of ownership.