Examination of Witnesses(Questions 20-39)|
TEBBIT KCB, CMG, LIEUTENANT
REITH CB, CBE AND
MONDAY 21 OCTOBER 2002
20. I am not surprised you do not.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I do not want to try
to make that sort of excuse because the fact is that they did
clog up very rapidly in those conditions. It was always open to
us to make the modifications that the Omanis had on their tanks.
We could have done so at the outset. It is not difficult to do
it, it was just a cost-effectiveness judgement for an exercise.
We are still satisfied that we exercised the tanks thoroughly
and got all the training value we required for the JRRF out of
the exercise as far as the tanks were concerned.
21. Are you saying that had it been a rapid reaction
real situation the tanks would have been ready, or would not have
been ready? I assume they would not.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Had it been a real
operation, they would have deployed with side armour enhanced.
I do not want to go into too much detail.
22. How long would that have taken?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That would have been
automatic. We hold the stocks, but we decided not to put them
into the exercise in that form because we could have faced a real-life
operation concurrent with the exercise and would then have needed
them, so we judged. As I said at the beginning, one of the fundamental
issues here to understand is that we have to balance what we did
in an exercise with what we do in operations and cost-effectiveness
throughout. Throughout the exercise those judgements had to be
made. If this had been going to war, we would have gone with whatever
it took to win. Since it was an exercise, we balanced it against
other operations and cost.
23. Have you managed to sell many Challenger
tanks since this report appeared?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) No, I do not think
we have sold any more Challenger 2s to the Omanis.
24. It was not a bad advertising programme you
could have had, was it?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) It is a very fine
25. I am sure it is. It just does not work in
the desert, not if it gets into the wrong bit of desert.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I am clearly not succeeding
in getting the facts across to you. May I ask the general to do
(Lieutenant General Reith) May I start by saying that
I was chief of staff of the British division during the Gulf War
and I do know the difference between different types of sands
because we had the same problem then.
26. You should have told him.
(Lieutenant General Reith) No, no. The
point is that during the Gulf War we had Challenger 1 and this
is Challenger 2 and it is a completely different tank. As a tank
it is outstanding. It has probably the best turret system of any
tank and in terms of accuracy of fire is far better than any others
27. That is great, but if it cannot move it is
no good, is it? If it is stuck there in the middle of the sand
it is not much use.
(Lieutenant General Reith) It was not
stuck there, in fact we completed something like 70 per cent of
the training with all the squadrons. I made the judgement then,
because we had found that the air filters were not making the
specificationfour hours instead of 14 hours and therefore
obviously more than three times the number being used upthat
rather than have an embarrassment when we were doing demonstrations
with the Omanis at the end of the exercise, because part of the
value of this exercise was for defence diplomacy purposes and
we had all the ministers and chiefs of defence of the Gulf Co-operation
Council attending the demonstrations at the end, I made sure that
every single one of our tanks which were on the demonstrations
completed the demonstrations with no problem whatsoever. It was
a judgement call and the fact was that the only reason we were
not able to use the Challengers throughout the whole period of
the exercise was because we ended up with a much greater demand
on spares than we had originally planned for. When it comes down
to dust mitigation, I should say that I was the sponsor of the
trial for up-armouring Challenger 1 and what we find is that when
you put appliqué armour onto the sides of the tank, it
actually has a suction effect which drives the dust out from behind
the tank rather than allowing the dust to swirl over the engine.
28. Yes, it says that in the report. I understand
(Lieutenant General Reith) Since Saif
Sareea II we have further trialed Challenger 2 in Canada with
the applique« armour on to check that is still correct for
Challenger 2. We have had a valuable lesson, we have rechecked
it and we are satisfied that the ingestion is reduced remarkably.
29. Canada is an appropriate place to test it.
(Lieutenant General Reith) It is a dust
30. It has the same dust as Oman, does it?
(Lieutenant General Reith) It varies
in the same way that Oman does.
31. You got into the same sort of trouble with
the self-propelled gun, the AS90. There was a flaw in the use
of the self-propelled gun. I think each gun cost about £1million.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Yes.
32. One million pounds each and all because the
department says that the heat shield placed in front of the plastic
air intake filter could not prevent total meltdown, which caused
two guns to be withdrawn. "This was not a design fault because
the original design stipulated thermally-stable plastic tubes".
Where did they go? Did someone steal them?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) This is simply a question
of the heat of the Omani desert. This was a heat problem.
33. But they were stipulated to be thermally-stable
tubes. Where were they? It says this in the report you have signed
up to, "This was not a design fault because the original
design stipulated thermally-stable plastic tubes". Did the
department take that out of the specification when the order was
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I cannot answer that
34. Someone must be able to. It is quite important.
You have signed up to it. You know it cost £1 million in
each case. Why was it not there if it was in the original design
specification? Is there anyone in the Ministry of Defence to volunteer?
Put up your hand if you know the answer.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) The design specification
for the AS90 was not for 44°C in the desert. The design specification
for the AS90 was for temperate climates. This was a Cold War legacy
system designed for the European battlefield.
35. No, no, with respect, listen again.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I am listening.
36. That is irrelevant. This exercise exposed
a flaw. This was not a design fault because the original design
stipulated thermally-stable plastic tubes.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Yes.
37. Where were they?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) And it goes on to
say that that was not incorporated because when the AS90 was procured
it was for temperate conditions and therefore, I assume, it was
not converted into the production.
38. But we are talking now of a Rapid Reaction
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Yes, indeed we are.
39. It may not go into temperate areas.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) We are having to convert
systems which were designed for the north European plain to operate
in different conditions. You are quite right that the heat shield
on the AS90 gun was not sufficient to withstand the temperatures
we encountered in the desert, which is why we are now consideringand
this is a different case from the Challenger tank, the Challenger
tank is not such an old systemmodifications which will
strengthen the resistance to extreme heat and temperature. Again,
this was an exercise experience and as a result of that we are
now changing the specification on the AS90 to cope.
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