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Identification Equipment

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what forms of Identification Friend or Foe equipment which distinguish between friendly and hostile ground forces have been evaluated by the Ministry of Defence; and whether he will introduce such a system. [108851]

Mr. Ingram: Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment contributes to our combat identification capability—how we distinguish between friend, foe and neutrals in modern joint and coalition military operations. This capability is delivered through a combination of three elements: Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (for example, the use of recognition devices on vehicles and the clear definition of areas of operation), Situational Awareness (knowledge of what is happening in the battlespace) and Target Identification (the ability to positively identify a target within the battlespace). IFF equipment particularly supports the latter. Distinguishing between friendly and hostile ground forces, whether from the ground or from the air, is generally recognised to be a significant challenge and, as in other environments, there is no single technical solution to the problem. We are seeking to update and improve our capability across all elements of combat identification and for target identification we will introduce in the second half of this decade the Battlefield Target Identification system and the Airborne System for Target Recognition, Identification and Designation.

Initial/Main Gate Programmes

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list programmes estimated to cost over £100 million that have received (a) initial gate and (b) main gate approval since 1997–98. [109140]

Mr. Ingram: The Initial and Main Gate approval process has only been in operation within the Ministry of Defence since April 1999, having been introduced as one element of implementation of the Smart Procurement Initiative. The following projects involving estimated investment over 100 million have received Initial and/or Main Gate approval since April 1999:

Initial Gate

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Main Gate

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International Military Services

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether International Military Services have settled all contractual issues arising from the sale of tanks to the Shah of Iran; in what legal actions in the last five years IMS has been involved; under which jurisdictions; and when he expects to wind up the affairs of International Military Services. [99074]

Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 6 February 2003, Official Report, column 402W, to the hon. Member for Truro and St. Austell (Matthew Taylor). The only legal actions in which International Military Services Ltd. (IMS) has been involved have been those relating to its arbitrations with Iran on the tank contracts and an infrastructure contract, and the consequential appeals. Different elements of the actions have been conducted under Dutch and English jurisdiction. IMS will be wound up when the appeals proceedings are complete. This may not be for four or five years.


Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many serving members of the armed forces in the Gulf have had training in Arabic. [106911]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 7 April 2003]: The information requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Service records do not give details of how individuals have acquired their language skills. Some personnel will have been trained in Arabic, for example at the Defence School of Languages; others, however, will have acquired their language skills by other means, such as from having lived in an Arabic-speaking country or from an Arabic-speaking parent. Determining how many Arabic speakers among our forces in the Gulf have received training in Arabic could only be done by seeking the information from the individuals concerned.

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British (a) tanks, (b) armoured personnel carriers, (c) land vehicles and (d) aircraft have been lost in the Iraq War. [107976]

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Mr. Ingram: I am withholding this information in accordance with Exemption 1a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, which relates to defence, security and international relations.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on incidences of 'friendly fire' during the current campaign in Iraq. [108849]

Mr. Ingram: All casualties suffered by our armed forces are a serious matter. It is especially tragic that British Servicemen have lost their lives in so-called "friendly fire" incidents. Sadly such casualties are a risk of warfare. The issue of Combat Identification is taken very seriously; we worked closely with the United States to ensure that effective arrangements were in place before the start of operations in Iraq. United Kingdom forces' Combat Identification capability is compatible and comparable with that of our US allies. Combat Identification is not delivered by a single system or piece of equipment, but by a combination of tactics and procedures backed up by technology. Regrettably, no system can be 100 per cent. fail-safe, but we remain confident that the capability with which we have provided our forces is as effective as possible, despite the recent tragic incidents.

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution his Department has made to the cost of embedded journalists during the Iraq war. [108952]

Dr. Moonie: Embedded journalists with British forces in Iraq have been provided with a range of facilities, services and equipment in accordance with the instructions in the Green Book—"Working Arrangements with the media in times of Emergency, Tension, Conflict or War". This has included documentation, military clothing, protective equipment, training, accommodation, food and military transport into, within and out of theatre.

The exact costs of these services, facilities and equipment have not been separately identified and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the normal duration is of the tour of duty for servicemen serving in the Gulf. [108987]

Mr. Ingram: The normal duration of a tour of duty varies according to the wider manning and training requirements of each service. Deployed operational tours to the Gulf do not normally exceed six months.

Our policy for operations in the Gulf, and elsewhere, is to deploy personnel on operations for no longer than is necessary to achieve the military aim and personnel are withdrawn at the earliest opportunity.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the use of the Bugsplat Computer programme to target missiles and bombs in the invasion of Iraq. [109019]

Mr. Ingram: The Bugsplat Computer program is a United States modelling tool developed to assist in assessing weapon effects. The United Kingdom does not use the Bugsplat Computer program.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to send paediatric equipment modules to British Army field hospitals operating in Iraq to assist

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with the treatment of young children; how many such modules have been sent to Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [109212]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 14 April 2003]: The Ministry of Defence has despatched 21 medical modules containing paediatric equipment to our field hospitals in the Gulf region. We are working closely with the Department for International Development to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided in line with the United Kingdom's obligations under the Geneva Conventions and Hague Regulations.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to restore the supply of electricity in Basra; and if he will make a statement. [109328]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 10 April 2003, Official Report, column 350W, to the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge).

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the establishment of a peacekeeping force in Iraq; and if he will make a statement on the role of British forces in Iraq once hostilities cease. [109329]

Mr. Ingram: During and after hostilities in Iraq, United Kingdom forces will, as part of the coalition, conduct a variety of security tasks with the aim of establishing a safe and secure environment in which the Iraqi people can begin to rebuild their political institutions and economic infrastructure. They will stay as long as is necessary.

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