Select Committee on Public Accounts Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Sir Kevin Tebbit KCB, CMG, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence

  In response to your request for a note (Question 129), I offer the Committee the following list that I made for my personal use in preparing to give evidence. These are the "13 activities" that I mentioned at the hearing, covering the three strands of Combat Identification: situational awareness; target ID; and tactics, techniques and procedures. These are the major programmes or initiatives (excluding various upgrades to in-service equipment and improvements to operational training procedures).

  1.   BOWMAN. The BOWMAN system will provide a secure tactical communications infrastructure, incorporating automated position, location, navigation and reporting for increased situational awareness, thereby improving combat effectiveness and reducing the risk of fratricide. This £2.2 billion contract will see BOWMAN equipment fitted to some 20,000 vehicles, 149 naval vessels and some 350 aircraft from 2004. Early acquisition of 45,000 BOWMAN Personal Role Radios have been achieved, with delivery into Service beginning in January 2002. These radios have been used in Afghanistan to great effect, significantly improving the situational awareness of tactical forces.

  2.   Successor Identification Friend or Foe (SIFF). The SIFF programme will equip 38 different platform types (aircraft, ships and ground based air defence), including the High Velocity Missile System and Rapier mentioned in the NAO Report, with a secure "Question and Answer" capability to positively identify friendly air platforms. These platforms will receive NATO standard Mk12 Identification Friend or Foe equipment, which will be interoperable with our allies. the first contract for this £396 million programme was placed with Raytheon in December 2000. Fitting of SIFF equipment will begin in 2002, with programme completion in 2008.

  3.   Link 16. The tactical data link "Link 16" has been progressively fitted to major UK platforms (aircraft and ships) since 1991. A key capability of Link 16 is the Precise Participant Location and Identity message transmitted by all Link 16 equipped platforms that are active within the battlespace. This capability supplies positive identification to all recipients of the "Link 16 picture" and hence provides extensive situational awareness. This is a rolling acquisition programme, with the intention to fit Link 16 to over 600 platforms by 2012. Link 16 is widely available to allies and hence significantly enhances interoperability with NATO and other coalition forces.

  4.   Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD). A two year assessment programme of our future GBAD (High Velocity Missile and Rapier ) requirements is beginning. This programme will assess how to improve GBAD's Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) capability, with a target date for initial operating capability of January 2007. The enhancements to C4I will improve situational awareness, thereby improving combat effectiveness and reducing the risk of fratricide. In addition, a trial programme is underway to provide some Rapier units with connectivity to the Link 16 picture to demonstrate enhanced situational awareness. This enhanced capability will be fielded by the end of 2002.

  5.   Airborne Stand Off Radar (ASTOR). ASTOR is a new capability, which will provide a long range all weather theatre surveillance and target acquisition system, capable of detecting moving, fixed and static targets. The system will comprise a fleet of five air platforms, each with a dual-mode radar sensor, and eight mobile ground stations. The first aircraft and ground stations are due to be delivered in 2004, with final deliveries being made in 2008. The prime contract with Raytheon Systems Ltd was let in December 1999. The current acquisition programme value is £930 million.

  6.   Battlefield Target ID (BTID) System. Since the Gulf war a common programme of work has been undertaken to identify and select the most cost and operationally effective technology for a ground based BTID system. In 1997, following a "Four Power" (UK/US/GE/FR) technology assessment, the decision was taken to adopt a millimetric wave question and answer system. The UK then took the initiative and prepared a NATO BTID standardisation agreement (STANAG 4579), which was issued in June 2000. This STANAG has now been ratified by eight nations including the UK. In parallel, the UK began a risk reduction programme in February 1999, drawing on studies carried out in the 1990s, to provide a technical solution that was STANWAG compliant (total programme cost is £2.4 million). A key output was the successful demonstration of a UK BTID prototype system conducted in September 2001. The programme has now entered Phase 4 to de-risk crypto, miniaturisation, and system integration.

  7.   Coalition Combat Identification Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (CCID ACTD) Programme. Conscious of the need for a multinational BTID solution, we therefore welcomed the US Initiative in 2001 to invite NATO Allies to take part in their CCID ACTD. A key output from this programme is a planned demonstration of technical interoperability of national BTID systems (STANAG 4579 compliant) in a major coalition exercise in 2005. The Department has allocated £6.2 million for the UK to support this demonstration. Another important objective of the CCID ACTD is to develop and test Combat Indentification Concepts of Operations for coalition operations in the ground-to-ground and air-to-ground environments.

  8.   Airborne System for Target Recognition, Identification and Designation (ASTRID). We are investing in improving air-to-surface detection capabilities through the ASTRID programme. The programme began in 2001, when £91 million was allocated to cover the concept phase throught to integration into Service of up to 40 systems from 2010. ASTRID aims to deliver the capability to identify mobile, re-locatable and fixed targets at much greater stand-off ranges than the current in-Service equipment. ASTRID is also expected to deliver automated search, detection and identification of targets as well as support both laser and GPS guided weapons.

  9.   UK Co-operative Engagement Capability (CEC). We are planning to introduce the CEC for RN ships, which will significantly improve situational awareness and provide interoperability with the US Navy. In addition, CEC will provide faster and more reliable automatic Combat Identification of tracks leading to a reduced potential for "blue on blue" engagements. The programme is currently in its assessment phase, with a planned delivery of an initial operational capability on a Type 23 Frigate in 2008. Total acquisition cost is approximately £220 million. Studies are also under way to investigate new and improved methods for networking these and other related capabilities to provide enhanced situational awareness across the battlespace.

  10.   Single Integrated Air Picture (SIAP). The US has established a Systems Engineering Task Force (SETF) to improve their air defence warfighting capability by addressing the requirements for a SIAP. The SIAP, created by fusing data from a variety of sensors and platforms, promises consistent, uninterrupted, and unique tracks for all airborne objects in the battlespace, forming a tactical air picture that everyone can share. The SETF has a budget of $100 million over a two year period. The UK's involvement with SIAP began in 2001 and has been focused in three areas: participation in a UK/US Tactical Data Link bilateral; technical analysis of the SETF output; and studies within the Applied Research Programme to determine the implications of the US SIAP on the UK. Through closer involvement in the SIAP programme, we expect to benefit from increased shared awareness and improved interoperability with the US.

  11.   Multinational Interoperability Programme (MIP). Since 1998, we have been actively involved in the six nation (US/UK/GE/FR/IT/CA) MIP; this was recently expanded to include an additional 10 nations. A key objective of the programme is to facilitate interoperable Command and Control (C2) systems. The programme is aiming to deliver an automated data exchange capability in 2003. This capability represents an important enhancement to the Coalition Common Operational Picture and will improve the quality and confidence in the identification of entities within the battlespace, particularly land units. The Department regards the MIP programme as a key mechanism by which improved interoperability between land forces in future coalition operations can be achieved.

  12.   Shared Tactical Ground Picture (STGP). We are actively involved in the development of the STGP. This is a 5-Power (FR/UK/IT/US/GE) capability integration initiative, which originated in 1998 and will attempt to combine the Combat Identification components of existing projects into an accurate, comprehensive and commonly understood tactical picture. This ambitious programme is expected to be completed by 2009. A key benefit to the UK is greater integration of the Common Operating Picture than previously envisaged and the ability for Combat Identification systems to operate across international boundaries.

  13.   Doctrine. In conjunction with Combat Identification equipment capability improvements, new doctrine has been developed by the Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre and the single Service Warfare Centres and promulgated through a series of "Tactical Notes". Liaison between the Services has aslo improved following the establishment of the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) in 1996 with much greater awareness across the Services of their respective activities. Furthermore, joint training has provided the opportunity to practise Combat Identification related tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure that they are understood. This has lead to improved combat effectiveness and has reduced the risk of fratricide.

  I would not pretend to think that the list is of great value to the Committee in this form, not least because the technical detail and complexity, while interesting to defence specialists, does not shed a great deal of light on value for money considerations. But it does illustrate the range of programmes that are underway and the extent of the interdependencies with potential coalition partners.

Sir Kevin Tebbit, KCB CMG

Permanent Under-Secretary of State

Ministry of Defence

April 2002

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 21 August 2002