Examination of Witness (Questions 260
WEDNESDAY 1 MAY 2002
260. Does it transmit maps?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) It will transmit maps
if you wish it to, yes. It will transmit data, so you can pass
almost anything over it, although of course there can be band-width
constraints as ever. We are talking about 48,000 radios here and
26,000 computersa massive systemand 20,000 vehicles
and something like 149 ships, a large range of aircraft and, as
I say, eventually, 45,000 of the Personal Role Radios. So it is
an extensive system. I have talked about the specific benefits
that it provides, but why is this important in terms of military
capability? I come back to what I said earlier about moving towards
a network-centric capability. Bowman is a critical element of
that. It will link in through Falcon to a range of other systems.
It will enable us to exercise command-and-control of forces in
a much more efficient manner than we are able to at the moment.
Just as the Personal Role Radio is improving the situation a lot
for individual soldiers on the ground, we are getting to the stage
now where we are able to link up individuals and vehicles in an
efficient way, and I draw a parallel with the introduction on
to the Tornado F3 of the Joint Tactical Information Distribution
System some years ago. The F3, as you know, was an aircraft which
was designed to guard against a Soviet threat coming from the
north, operating from what was essentially a very large aircraft
carrier, the United Kingdom. It was not designed as an air superiority
fighter to mix it with things like F-15s and so on, yet when we
put the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System in that
aircraft, suddenly its capability was transformed and the crew
were able to hold their own in a wide range of circumstances,
and many of them regarded it as the most significant development
since the introduction of radar itself. This was because the ability
to distribute information from a wide variety of sources to those
who needed to have it transformed their situational awareness
and the tactical capabilities, and the same is true in all environments,
and Bowman is going to be a critical part of that for the land
261. Should the need arise, are there any further
aspects of the prospective capability of Bowman that might be
amenable for trading-off against cost or a timely delivery of
this system? Is there an incremental acquisition capability which
you might forgo or be prepared to forgo? I ought not let the manufacturer
hear that, I suppose.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) At the moment, I am
looking for the capability as advertised by 2004. The manufacturer
tells me they can deliver, and I am expecting them to deliver.
262. In terms of your own organisation, what
role do you have in planning the transition to Bowman so that
it does not impinge on current operational effectiveness?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) It is driven by the
Army Department largely. The Army has to integrate the deployment
of Bowman with its readiness cycle, so that the appropriate units
as they come back through the training cycle can have their vehicles
taken away and modified and so on. So we work very closely with
the Army Department, as does the IPT, and it is integrated seamlessly
so their requirements are met.
263. So you do not think our number of forces
will have to be reduced temporarily while kit is taken out of
service; vehicles or ships are taken out of service?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) No. That is the whole
point, it is being stitched into the Army's formation readiness
cycle, so they can maintain their operational tempo, their commitments,
and as they are brought back through the training cycle the vehicles
can be fitted.
264. You have talked about the very large number
of items of equipment that will have to be introduced47,000
radios, 26,000 computer terminalswhen you talk about 2004
being the in-service date, is that when you expect the majority
of that equipment to be in place?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) No. I am trying to
remember, off the top of my head, what we are using as the definition
of in-service date there. I think it is the first units which
are equipped with it. As I say, as the Army units go through their
formation readiness cycle, they will be equipped, so it will take
some time; it will be a rolling programme.
265. So we will have units which will be air,
sea and land, which will be equipped as from 2004 but not all
the air, land and sea units?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Correct, and, of course,
Bowman has a mode which makes it inter-operable with Clansman
because we will have to inter-operate.
Mr Howarth: Thank you.
266. I am delighted to know how many ships we
have. Are you sure you have got the figure right?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Yes, indeed. I hesitate
about the definition of a ship.
267. Of course!
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) It certainly does include
42 capital ships, I can tell you that.
268. Air Marshal, we are now going on to take
a few questions about reconnaissance and information systems.
One of the lessons we learnt from the Kosovo campaign was the
value of shortening sensor-to-shoot times. I understand that capability
was very much needed in terms of the ISTAR system to link command
and control. How does your organisation keep on top of developments
in terms of getting the balance right between the different strands
of information systems and getting the balance right between the
different forms of those systems?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) What we are doing is
developing a model for looking at defence equipment capability
in the round, much more as a gestalt than a series of related
projects, as it were, and then seeing how overlaying different
types of information superiority capabilities on that will give
us maximum leverage, if you like. We have made a determined effort
over the last couple of years to shift investment into that area,
as you know, but we also need a strategy for investing those resources,
and that is the way we are approaching that.
269. To what extent do we rely on our coalition
partners in that work you are talking about, to ensure the systems
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) I am sorry, I am not
quite sure I understand the question. To what extent do we rely
on them to provide capabilities?
270. And also integration for joint operations.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Inter-operability is
crucial; inter-operability with likely partners is fundamental
to those systems.
271. In terms of UAVs, the Watchkeeper programme,
why are we developing that when the US have already moved to the
next generation of UAVs with things like Predator?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Watchkeeper is, from
my perspective, a capability requirement. I need something and
it is envisaged to be a UAV because the work which was done as
part of the TRACER programme showed the value of a mix of manned
systems on the ground and UAVs, but it is a capability requirement
as far as I am concerned. Watchkeeper is not the name of a system,
it is a requirement, and we do not know yet what is going to meet
that requirement. I am waiting for the DPA to come back to me
with the proposals for that.
272. So it could be taking something of theirs
off the shelf which is tried and tested?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) It could be.
273. Is that an option?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Absolutely. What is
going to be most cost effective in meeting the requirement.
274. The Americans are quite British-like in
Afghanistan, strapping bombs on to drones, so it is a double-whammy
for a system if we can deliver ordnance rather than simply transmitting
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Absolutely.
275. We have one final section and that is another
vexed area, Eurofighter, ASRAAM and BVRAAM. Eurofighter's air-to-air
capability appears in many ways to hinge on the missiles it will
carry. To what extent will integrating ASRAAM on the Tornado F3
reduce the imperative for bringing a similarly armed Eurofighter
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Not at all.
Chairman: That is pretty succinct. Are you sure
you would not like to add anything? I cannot recall ever having
had a more precise answer. You are letting the side down, Air
Marshal, by giving honest and terse answers!
Mr Howarth: Shall we ask him why!
276. We will accept his judgment. The MoD's
refusal last year to accept ASRAAM into service appears to have
hinged on the MoD's interpretation of the missile's ability to
deliver the capability that the Department was looking for. What
role did your organisation play in that decision?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) We played a substantial
role because we set the capability requirement but we also have
to ensure that the solution which is delivered meets that requirement,
so that is a fundamental part of the process. ASRAAM suffered
from two specific problems at that time. There were some short-term
issues which we judged could be resolved but needed to be resolved
before we brought it into service at all. Then there was a longer-term
issue which was that if we solved the short-term problems we would
have a missile which was far better than anything else which currently
existed but it would not be good enough for 10, 15 years hence
when it would still be in service, so we needed to address the
issue of how we were going to keep it ahead of the competition
in the future. Those were the two specific areas we had to address.
As you know, the short-term problems were solved, we brought it
into service with the Air Force, we have delivered missiles to
the front line, the operation evaluation units, and the response
of the air crew has been very positive indeed. There is, as required
by the previous Minister DP, a road map for taking the missile
from where it is now up to the capability we will need in the
277. You may want to give this information subsequent
to our meeting, but can you give us an indication in public about
the difference in capability that could have been available from
ASRAAM last spring and what will be available when the missile
is fully developed in due course?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) We could not have used
the missile until the short-term issues were resolved, it would
not have given us any capability because of the problems of putting
it into operational service. Now they are fixed, the capability
it provides us is far superior than anything which exists anywhere
else; a very fast, highly agile missile; good probability of kill;
good counter-measures resistance, so we are very pleased with
278. What longer range air-to-air capability
will Eurofighter have in the first few years of its operational
life, before it is fitted with BVRAAM?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) It will be fitted with
the AMRAAM missile, which has always been the intention in the
279. When some members of this Defence Committee
went to the Bundestag three or four years ago, to plead with our
colleagues to proceed with Eurofighter, they agreed, which I was
very pleased about, and they were very concerned about BVRAAM,
a European missile on a European aircraft. There have been one
or two cases in the procurement of major weapons systems involving
Germany where there have been delays over and above those which
normally take place in the procurement of substantial platforms
and weapons systems. Can you give us some indication as toand
you may say, "This ain't my responsibility" but I am
pretty sure you knowwhat are the delays, why are we waiting
for contracts to be signed, what effect will it have on the future
National Audit Office report which will say, "Delays in BVRAAM"
followed by an asterisk, and then you look down the bottom and
it will say, "Due to contractual difficulties"? When
will things proceed at the speed which those wanting to see this
missile system on an excellent aircraft want? When will reassurance
be given that everything will be on target, metaphorically and
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Chairman, this ain't
my business! All I will say is that there have been some fairly
complicated contract negotiations which have taken place, not
least because both sides have wished to include the lessons learnt
from the ASRAAM programme, and that has been done, and the methods
by which the missile will be evaluated, the test points and all
the rest, have been clearly defined to everyone's satisfaction.
We have successfully concluded those negotiations now and we placed
copies of the final draft contract with each of our partner nations,
they all have it in their hands now, and we await to see the outcome.