Select Committee on Defence Third Report


9  MAJOR DEFENCE EQUIPMENT

Overall performance

203. The major defence equipments are reported to have performed well during Operation Telic. First Reflections reported that 'Equipment across all three services matched and often exceeded expectations, reflecting recent operational experience and the value of exercise Saif Sareea II,'[305] and listed a range of equipment which had performed particularly well. It noted the increased availability and use of precision guided weapons 'some 85% of UK air weapons were precision guided, compared to 25% during Kosovo'.[306] These positive messages were also echoed in Lessons for the Future.[307] The NAO also highlighted the good performance of major defence equipment, 'throughout the warfighting phase of Operation TELIC a number of both new and in service equipments operated effectively in the austere environment of Iraq'.[308] The NAO also noted that 'the availability and performance of the majority of the fighting equipments demonstrates that the Department's major equipments, both new and in-service, contributed significantly to overall military capability and the success of the operation'.[309]

204. We asked Air Marshal Burridge about the performance of major defence equipment during the operation. He told us that:

    Our fighting equipment, bearing in mind we had a fairly extensive urgent operational requirement programme which brings it up either to a higher level or changes it or whatever, taken together our fighting equipment was very good.[310]

Given that a number of major equipments, such as the Challenger 2 tank, had to undergo substantial modifications before the operation, we also asked him whether there were any occasions when the late arrival of equipment delayed or cancelled operations. He told us that there were no such occasions 'but it was close'.[311] He noted that there had been a 'magnificent effort by Alvis-Vickers in modifying Challenger 2s… The juxtaposition of the UN discussion and what that meant for time lines fortuitously met the technical and engineering time line for Challenger 2'.[312] General Reith told us that in relation to the 'desertising' of Challenger 2 tanks 'We came perilously close... but we did it, and we planned it that way'.[313] We have discussed the issue of readiness in more detail in paragraphs 185-93 above.

205. We asked General Fulton which major equipment had exceeded MoD's expectations and which had not performed as well as expected. On the successes, he told us:

    Starting with the sea environment… the Cruise Missile T-LAM was a conspicuous success… the mine counter-measures capability enhanced by the UORs, was a success… The performance of Sea King Mk 7… was also a revelation… On land, I know that you have heard from General Brimms that he had a number of key stars: Challenger 2 enhanced by the desertification UOR, Warrior, AS 90, and he also singled out Phoenix as a great success… We were delighted with the performance… of the SA 80 A2… the Bowman personal role radio was a conspicuous success… In the air, what the operation proved was the success of the multi-role platforms GR4 and GR7… we were very pleased with the performance of the air-delivered precision weapons. Storm Shadow in particular was brought forward, but also enhanced Paveway and Maverick were great successes... I would also point to the information-gathering capability Raptor… and we were also pleased with the performance of that. Equally, the performance of the Nimrod R1… was a great success, and finally C17 proved its worth.[314]

206. On the equipment that had performed less well, he told us:

    In terms of shortcomings, we were not entirely surprised, but nevertheless the availability of the Combat Engineer Tractor, which was below 50 per cent… was a disappointment… The shortcomings of Clansman are known… but… a number of people described Clansman's ability to hold up pretty well, within its own limitations.[315]

207. We suggested to General Fulton that there must have been other systems that performed less well. He replied that he was not sure that he could add to the list but added that:

    We do have to remember that the equipment was being used in very particular circumstances. There were very particular characteristics of this operation, which in some cases did not test the equipment to the extent that we might have expected it to be tested had we been fighting a more capable enemy or an enemy which fought us in a different way. We also have to remember that we were fighting in conjunction with the United States, and therefore there are also aspects of operating in a coalition which mean our equipment was not tested to the extent that it might have been had we been fighting on our own. What I am saying is that the parameters within which we conducted the operation were less than the most testing parameters against which we would specify equipment.[316]

208. We asked him whether equipment had not appeared on his list of projects which had not performed well because it was known that it had particular deficiencies and, therefore, it performed to expectation which was not very high—he said that this was 'correct'[317]

209. We are pleased to learn that in most cases the major defence equipments performed well in the difficult conditions encountered in Iraq although, given the nature of the operation, many equipments were not tested to the full.

Availability of equipment

210. On the availability of the major defence equipments during the operation, the NAO reported that 'throughout the war-fighting phase, the availability of the major war-fighting equipments (ships, armoured vehicles, helicopters and aircraft) was generally high'.[318] The 'availability rates for land equipment during the main conflict phase were consistently high'—the average availability for Challenger 2 was 90 per cent, and for AS90 was 95 per cent.[319] However, availability rates for some equipments was not so impressive. The Combat Engineer Tractor, which General Fulton identified as a poor performer, has been in service since the early 1970s and is due to be replaced by TERRIER in 2008.[320] For the Lynx anti-tank helicopter, the NAO reported that the average availability rate for the main conflict phase was 52.6 per cent— compared with 66 per cent for all the helicopters used in Operation Telic.[321] However, MoD subsequently told us that the availability of sand filters meant that no limitations were imposed upon the use of the deployed Lynx helicopters during the warfighting phase, and that composite figures, revised since the publication of the NAO report, indicated that the Lynx anti-tank helicopter in fact achieved serviceability rates of over 70 per cent throughout the deployment.[322]

211. We asked about the future of the Lynx helicopter. General Applegate told us that:

    As far as the Lynx is concerned… we have a fleet which is ageing… the particular element which Lynx is fulfilling as far as the attack element is concerned… is replaced, obviously, by the Apache… So the remaining Lynx we have will be conducting the utility tasks in a less stressing environment.[323]

212. We were impressed with the capability of HMS Ocean, a Landing Platform for Helicopters (LPH), which played a vital role in the operation. During our visit to HMS Ocean, we were told that its four Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) Mk 5 Landing Craft were old and unreliable—they either did not start or broke down when transporting Armed Forces personnel from the ship to the shore. We were dismayed to hear that the new replacement craft that had been ordered, had been rejected as they did not meet the requirement. General Fulton confirmed that that 'the current generation of landing craft are very old and are in the process of being replaced, and…. that there are difficulties with the acceptance of the new landing craft'.[324]

213. The availability of most defence equipment was generally high during Operation Telic. However, it is disappointing that an impressive capability such as HMS Ocean is let down by unreliable landing craft and 'that there are difficulties with the acceptance of the new landing craft.' We expect MoD to remedy this issue as soon as possible to ensure that the capabilities of HMS Ocean are maximised.

Communication and Information Systems

214. Air Marshal Burridge told us that 'communication, information systems'[325] was one of the areas where he would like to see change. The NAO reported that 'the majority of communications equipment worked well on the operation, although the force sometimes had difficulty maintaining strategic communications between the United Kingdom and units in-theatre'.[326] Lessons for the Future reported that:

    The UK's Communication and Information Systems (CIS) infrastructure could not easily support the information exchange requirements of the Iraq operation. UK forces had to rely on a variety of different communication systems connected by numerous gateways and interfaces…. Some gateways could not manage the volume of information traffic generated, inhibiting communication and information exchange between UK Maritime, Land and Air contingents. The limited degree of interoperability between UK and US CIS also had an impact on the ability to support coalition planning and operations in a high tempo environment, though maritime UK / US interoperability was good.[327]

215. We learned that both Harrier and helicopter operations were impeded by the lack of secure communications. We asked MoD whether there were any significant breakdowns in its ability to communicate from the UK to forces in theatre, and from commanders in theatre to their colleagues who were closer to the action. Air Vice Marshal Stephen Dalton, Capability Manager (Information Superiority) told us:

    there undoubtedly were occasions where the communications were not as robust and reliable as they should ideally have been…. due to a variety of factors, not least of which…. is the fact that the volume and the sheer quantity of communications that was required was so much larger than we had anticipated or had been shown in the past to be the requirement.[328]

He outlined the work in hand to address the shortcomings with the communications and information systems:

    We have a number of strands of work, both directly with NATO partners and also with specific countries, the US in particular, to try and make sure that our communications that we are bringing in over the next few years, literally the next two to three years, are compatible with their systems. An example there would be actually making sure that we put the wave form patterns from our radios into the software programmable radios that the Americans are buying for the future for their equipment as well, so that we are interoperable and compatible with their systems. In terms of strategic communications, yes, there were significant problems there, not least of which was with our now ageing Skynet 4 system, where a particular satellite in the net which was critical to it did give us problems, and the management system had to be changed to try and make use of other satellites that were available, including the Inmarsat system, which became at one point the critical communication system because the others which we had in place proved to be unreliable. So there were problems and things were being done about it. What we are doing for the future for that side of things is that we are at the moment in the process of launching the Skynet 5 system satellites, which will be up over the next four to five years, which will then give us a new, modern satellite capability to provide the strategic comms that we need.[329]

It concerns us that for the next four to five years we will continue to be dependent upon Skynet 4 which has recognised limitations and which let us down on this occasion.

216. We asked when there would be reliable, secure, timely and effective communication between all parts of our operations and our allies, Air Vice Marshal Dalton told us that is:

    a difficult question to answer in terms of when…. What we are seeking to do is to put in place a capable, reliable system that will meet the needs that have been specified to do it. When that will all be in place with all our allies is a difficult question to answer specifically in terms of dates…. It is a continuing process, but certainly within the next four to five years we will have a much more reliable system, which will enable us to meet the requirements both of our allies and for our own national use.[330]

General Fulton added that:

    I think we are some way off the perfection that you describe—in fact, I think we are a long way off the perfection you describe—but I would say we are in this situation because, frankly, we have not invested sufficient over the years in the enabling functions that allow us to do these sorts of things. It has only really been since the Strategic Defence Review of 1998 that we have started to invest in enablers as well as in what you might call the front line forces. Communications traditionally has been very much the poor relation and is catching up. There is a lot of investment coming but it is going to be a few years yet.[331]

217. MoD subsequently told us that it envisaged its network-enabled capability building through '3 epochs: firstly, an initial NEC state, characterised by improved connectivity by 2007; secondly, a state characterised by improved integration by 2015; and finally, a mature state in the longer term characterised by greater synchronisation'.[332]

218. Operation Telic highlighted serious shortcomings in the reliability, capacity and redundancy of the UK's communications and information systems, which to a large extent are a consequence of under investment in the past. While we acknowledge that work is in hand to address these shortcomings, we find it very worrying that it will be some time before any real improvements will be seen, particularly given the frequency with which UK Armed Forces are now involved in operations, and the increased need to communicate effectively not only within UK forces but also with our allies.

Combat identification

219. The purpose of combat identification is to enable military forces to distinguish friend from foe during operations, thereby enhancing combat effectiveness while minimising the risk of accidental engagement of friendly or allied forces—often referred to as 'fratricide' or 'Blue-on-Blue' incidents. Both the Defence Committee and the Committee of Public Accounts have previously emphasised the importance of this issue.

220. In its report on Operation Telic, the NAO set out the measures MoD had taken to reduce the risk of fratricide during Operation Telic:

221. The NAO concluded that 'These measures, in conjunction with training and procedures appear to have been largely effective.'[334] Sir Kevin Tebbit told the Committee of Public Accounts in January 2004 about the measures put in place and the lessons learned relating to combat identification:

    We take it very seriously. We worked very hard with the Americans before the operations on it. We also reviewed our performance after the operation and it was one of the key studies that were initiated immediately afterwards by Vice Chief of Defence Staff to see whether our approach was validated. We have made a copy of that review available to the NAO. Before the operation we procured 1,861 vehicle mounted and 5,000 dismounted for people combat ID sets which were specific to this operation. I will not detail how they work for obvious reasons. We also acquired the American blue forces tracking system which gives general situation awareness, which also helps, the cost was not enormous but we spent several million pounds on doing so. Our initial findings after the combat were that these systems are good and were good but there is still no simple, single solution from technology that training, tactics, procedures and exercises are still vital because in some of the tragic incidents that occurred combat ID was there and it was supposed to be operating and still the incidents happened. We believe, my military colleagues might comment, the answer lies in a combination of all of these things, of appropriate systems, procedures, training, exercising with it and we are very concerned to proceed on that basis.[335]

222. We welcome the overall finding of the National Audit Office that on Operation Telic, the measures, procedures and training relating to combat identification were largely effective. We are disappointed that a copy of the review of combat identification undertaken by the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, which was provided to the National Audit Office, was not made available to the Defence Committee during its inquiry.

223. MoD reported that 'the US did not decide which combat ID equipments they would operate until the end of 2002'.[336] We asked MoD how the timing of the US decision had affected the UK's ability to field similar or compatible systems. MoD told us that the timing of the decision had not affected the UK's 'ability to procure or deploy the Combat Identification to the Gulf.'[337]

224. First Reflections reported that 'In the air and at sea, extra 'Identification Friend or Foe' (IFF) systems were procured to supplement those routinely fitted to all RAF aircraft and RN warships'.[338] MoD has subsequently told us that First Reflections was wrong to state that extra IFF had been procured for RAF aircraft—no extra IFF systems were required, as aircraft deployed were already compliant with the existing IFF systems. However, situational awareness of aircraft, and therefore their Combat ID capability, was improved in a number of cases by the fitting of Link 16 tactical data link equipment.[339] About £2.5 million was spent procuring extra IFF systems for ships, which was fitted to the existing IFF equipment on board—fitting costs were minimal as the work was carried out by the ships' staff.[340]

225. For land troops, MoD reports that the UK is actively involved in developing Battlefield Target Identification for ground-to-ground recognition in the future. Bowman will also improve situational awareness and, in turn, Combat ID.[341] On the cost of acquiring the Blue Force Tracking System, MoD told us that for the eight month lease of the equipment, some £2.5 million was set aside. This included the costs of contractor support and provision against damage or loss of equipment.[342]

226. Despite all the measures in place, during the warfighting phase of Operation Telic, there were regrettably several instances of fratricide involving UK Service personnel: a Royal Air Force Tornado GR4A was destroyed by a United States Army Patriot Surface to Air Missile battery, killing the pilot and the navigator; a UK Challenger 2 main battle tank was engaged by another Challenger 2, killing two crewmen and seriously wounding two others; a United States Air Force A10 ground attack aircraft engaged reconnaissance elements from D Squadron, The Household Cavalry, killing one trooper and wounding three others. The causes of these incidents are the subject of ongoing Boards of Inquiry.[343] We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those killed in these incidents.

227. We asked the Secretary of State to what extent 'friendly fire' was a particular problem of combined coalition operations. He told us that:

    These were unlooked-for incidents, despite very determined efforts made, certainly as far as the technology provision was concerned, to use all the efforts that we could to avoid them, but the real answer to your question is that I cannot see, from what took place, that there is any pattern that suggests that this is the result of coalition-style operations.[344]

228. The Secretary of State did not believe that the incidents during Operation Telic would have been reduced if combat identification had been rolled out some time ago, as was planned. He told us that in relation to the incident involving Challenger 2 tanks that:

    I cannot see that any level of technological innovation could avoid that kind of incident taking place. If there is such an innovation, then certainly we will vigorously investigate it, but I cannot see, at the present levels of technology, that being easy to see a solution to, which is why I have consistently emphasised… that there is no simple, single technological solution to these problems.[345]

229. We asked when the ongoing Boards of Inquiry would report their findings on the fratricide incidents that occurred. Air Vice Marshal Torpy could not give us a definitive date but anticipated that it would be sometime in 'the New Year' [2004].[346] MoD subsequently told us that the principle of confidentiality of Board of Inquiry reports is designed to encourage the provision of forthright evidence and they are not normally disclosed in full outside MoD. MoD will in due course make available to the Library of the House a summary of the reports' conclusions.[347] We expect MoD to make available to Parliament and the Committee the summaries of the reports' conclusions as soon as possible and for the summaries to provide sufficient information on the causes of the incidents and the lessons learned in order to reassure the Armed Forces and ourselves that everything practicable was done to minimise the possibility of such incidents.

230. We asked MoD whether it was confident that lessons from these tragic incidents would be learned and that remedial action would be taken. Air Vice Marshal Torpy told us that:

    I am confident that we will do everything we possibly can to make sure that the lessons are implemented… It is in all of our interests to make sure that we reduce fratricide to the absolute minimum… Technology will to a degree assist us in this. Again, our aspiration of a network-centric environment will give us better shared awareness, and we will know where every asset is on the battle space, which we do not at the moment. Just as technology will give us the opportunity, it will also give us the opportunity to synchronise our activity and make it more complex. The opportunities in an increasingly complex battle space for fratricide are likely to increase.[348]

231. We asked Air Vice Marshal Torpy whether such incidents could be eliminated. He told us that:

    …whenever there is a human in the loop, whilst technology will assist the reduction in these incidents, inevitably, in the confusion of a very complex battle space, errors will be made[349]… It would be wrong to suggest that we could eliminate fratricide. Personally, as a military commander, I regret to say that we will continue to have fratricide just as we continue to have road accidents with our deployed forces as well. It is one of the facts of life. It is our job to make sure that those tragic incidents are reduced to the absolute minimum.[350]

232. In terms of future work to improve combat identification, the Secretary of State told us that 'there is a long-term effort obviously to get as many allies as possible agreeing on a single system… for the moment we have committed ourselves… to having the best equipment that we could lay our hands on.'[351]

233. We expect MoD to implement the lessons from Operation Telic relating to combat identification. MoD should push forward with the work with its allies to agree on a single system. The latter is particularly important given that future UK military action is most likely to be as part of a coalition. We note MoD's view that the opportunities for fratricide in an increasingly complex battle space are likely to increase, but look to MoD to identify the required action and make the necessary investment to ensure that such incidents are reduced to a minimum.

UAVs

234. Lessons for the Future reported that 'Coalition Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) offered versatile capabilities as both surveillance and reconnaissance, and offensive platforms, and demonstrated that they will play a key role in the future joint battle,'[352] and further that 'Extensive use of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) enabled the coalition to conduct unrelenting operations…. Although the UK's Phoenix UAV, a first generation system, had a more limited capability than the US systems, it played an important and highly valued role in support of UK land forces, and demonstrated the increasingly key role UAVs may play in the joint battle as they become more capable'.[353]

235. MoD provided us with information on the contribution of the Phoenix UAVs. 89 Phoenix UAVs were deployed on Operation Telic and flew 138 missions—23 were lost or damaged beyond repair and 13 were damaged but repairable. In terms of the future 'Phoenix will be phased out and its role subsumed by the broader Watchkeeper UAV capability which we aim to introduce in 2006'. [354] We asked MoD about the contribution of UAVs during the operation. General Fulton told us that:

    In terms of effectiveness of UAVs, yes, the Americans made a lot of use of them. The Americans, as we know, have a much greater variety of them and they have developed them much further than we have, but nevertheless, there is a great deal of investment going in this country to improve or to increase the use that we make of them. As far as Phoenix is concerned, Phoenix has been a much maligned equipment in the past, but was identified by General Brims as one of his war winners and he certainly found it extremely useful, with all its known shortcomings. Yes, the attrition rate was high…. In terms of causes of loss, technical reasons are believed to account for the majority of those that were lost…. Phoenix is very much a last-generation air vehicle and a last-generation system…. We are not going to go out and buy more Phoenix. Watchkeeper is due in service in 2005-06 and will provide a two-step change in our capability in the information-gathering capability that will be provided…. We are very keen…. not to make changes to the Watchkeeper requirement, so that we do not keep chasing the latest requirement, and we do not fall into the same trap we fell into with Bowman.'[355]

236. We are pleased to hear that, despite its chequered past, Phoenix made a valuable contribution to the operation. We support the robust approach being adopted in relation to the Watchkeeper UAV programme, which aims to 'nail the… requirement and to make sure that the companies deliver that which we have asked for'[356] although we continue to be concerned that the accelerated in-service date for the programme may not be met. We will continue to monitor the progress of this key programme.

237. A press article in late 2003[357] reported that MoD had purchased US Desert Hawk and US Buster UAVs. General Fulton told us that MoD was procuring, as a UOR, Desert Hawk UAVs. However, it was not in service yet.[358] It was unclear to us how this procurement fitted with the Watchkeeper programme. General Fulton explained that it did not fit into the Watchkeeper requirement, but was a 'very much smaller air vehicle, very much less capable, with a very much shorter range… Something that is therefore man-portable, to see whether that can help with some of the surveillance requirements that exist at the moment.'[359] We consider it well worthwhile that MoD is assessing the usefulness of man-portable UAVs for current operations in Iraq. We expect MoD to reflect the results of this assessment when deciding on the overall mix of UAVs for the future.

Apache

238. The operational UK helicopter fleet does not currently contain 'attack' helicopters, although there are a number of armed helicopters. MoD, however, is in the process of acquiring 67 Apache helicopters, which should come into service over the next few years. According to Lessons for the Future, 'There are…. potential lessons for the future utility of the UK's new Apache attack helicopters from the US experience in Iraq with its Cobra and Apache helicopters'.[360]

239. We were concerned about the reported vulnerability of the Apache helicopter to small arms fire, and were interested in the lessons MoD had identified in relation to this. General Applegate acknowledged that there had been criticism of the Apache helicopter following an attack against elements of the Medina Division in which the Apache helicopters suffered a substantial amount of damage. He argued however that whilst the helicopters involved absorbed a lot of damage all except one returned and went back into action two days later.[361] He also recognised that there 'were clearly problems with tactics, techniques and procedures on that day.'[362]

240. We were pleased to learn that MoD were not planning to reduce its purchase of Apache helicopters and that it was seeking to ensure that 'what we buy are the best.'[363] We conclude that there are key lessons from the United States' experience in Iraq which MoD needs to take into account when developing its tactics, techniques and procedures for its Apache helicopters. We expect MoD to take the required action to ensure that UK Apache helicopters are as capable as they can be, given the new sorts of environments and operations they are likely to be operating in.

Sea King

241. The Sea King Mk 7 Air Surveillance and Control System is reported[364] to have performed well using its Searchwater 2000 radar. This radar is normally used over water, but provided battlefield surveillance and target cueing for UK land forces. General Fulton told us that the performance of the Sea King was an example of 'the ability of our people to take in equipment that was designed for one purpose and apply it to another when the situation changes.'[365] He said that in the future, the Astor programme, due in service in 2005, will provide a better stand-off picture of the battlefield and the Watchkeeper programme will also provide a flexible way to do the same thing. The Sea King helicopter made a significant contribution to the operation and highlighted the benefit of acquiring equipment that is sufficiently adaptable. However, we are concerned to learn that, at times, the Sea King provided the only dedicated stand-off sensor coverage for 3 Commando Brigade's operations on the Al Faw peninsula.[366] We expect MoD to ensure that the Astor programme meets its in-service date to fill the current capability gap.

242. The Sea King, in common with other helicopters, is vulnerable to ground-to-air threats. General Fulton told us that there was a limited amount that could be done to make the Sea King less vulnerable to ground-to-air threats. He considered that the correct approach was not to incur 'great expenditure' on its protection, but rather to 'limit its vulnerability through use rather than through technical means.'[367] We expect MoD to ensure that the lessons identified to minimise the Sea King's vulnerability are fully implemented.

The Defence White Paper

243. The Defence White Paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World[368] was published on 11 December 2003. In the foreword to the White Paper the Secretary of State wrote:

    we must invest in the battle-winning equipment [the Armed Forces] will need…. to effectively support expeditionary operations. Resources must be directed at those capabilities that best deliver the range of effects required…. we expect to be in a position to announce significant changes to the current and future capabilities of the Armed Forces and supporting infrastructure next year.

In his oral statement in the House of Commons he said:

    Resources must be directed at those capabilities that are best able to deliver the range of military effects required, whilst dispensing with those elements that are less flexible. [369]

In the case of the Army, he stated that:

    experience shows that the current mix of heavy and light capabilities was relevant to the battles of the past rather than the battles of the future …. the Future Rapid Effects System family of vehicles that we are currently developing will help meet the much needed requirement for medium weight forces. Over time this will inevitable reduce our requirement for heavy armoured fighting vehicles and heavy artillery. [370]

244. We asked what changes MoD expected to make to the Equipment Programme in response to the lessons learned and the experience on Operation Telic, and specifically about the progress with the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES), a programme which is intended to provide a medium weight capability to the Army in the form of a vehicle with some of the reach and endurance of heavy armour and the air-deployability of light forces. General Fulton told us that Operation Telic 'has underlined for us the importance of certain aspects…. but…. would not necessarily expect to see…. a wholesale change of direction'.[371] In relation to FRES, General Applegate told us that:

    As far as FRES is concerned at the moment, I think we are still keen to make sure that we get a FRES series of vehicles, but the simpler ones first. The timescale is 2009-10, depending what is available.[372]

General Fulton added that:

    What FRES and what the medium weight force seeks to do… is to plug the gap in the middle, which is a capability that we do not have at the moment.[373]

245. We sought further information on the status of the FRES programme, given its future importance. MoD told us that it is currently reviewing the outputs from the planning work carried out as part of the Concept Phase. Preparatory work for the initial Assessment Phase has begun. Output from this phase will help MoD decide on the procurement strategy for future phases of the programme. An in-service date will not be approved until Main Gate.[374] The planning assumption is to introduce early FRES variants around the end of the decade.[375]

246. We have announced our intention to undertake an inquiry into the Defence White Paper. We will also continue to monitor the progress of the FRES programme as part of our annual inquiry into defence procurement.


305   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-First Reflections (July 2003), p 27. Back

306   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-First Reflections (July 2003), p 27. Back

307   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future (December 2003), p 15, paras 5.3-5.7, p 27, paras 6.1-6.11. Back

308   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Operations in Iraq (HC 60 Session 2003-04: 11 December 2003), para 4.2. Back

309   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Operations in Iraq (HC 60 Session 2003-04: 11 December 2003), para 4.10. Back

310   Q 279 Back

311   Q 377 Back

312   Q 378 Back

313   Q 947 Back

314   Qq 1898, 1900 Back

315   Q 1900 Back

316   Q 1901 Back

317   Q 1914 Back

318   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Operations in Iraq (HC 60 Session 2003-04: 11 December 2003), para 4.9. Back

319   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Operations in Iraq (HC 60 Session 2003-04: 11 December 2003), para 4.9, figure 9 on p 26. Back

320   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Operations in Iraq (HC 60 Session 2003-04: 11 December 2003), Figure 9 on p 26. Back

321   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Operations in Iraq (HC 60 Session 2003-04: 11 December 2003), para 4.9, Figure 10 on p 27. Back

322   Ev 432 Back

323   Q 1919 Back

324   Q 1913 Back

325   Q 279 Back

326   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Operations in Iraq (HC 60 Session 2003-04: 11 December 2003), para 4.8. Back

327   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future (December 2003), para 3.7. Back

328   Q 1929 Back

329   Q 1953 Back

330   Qq 1957-8 Back

331   Q 1958 Back

332   Ev 433 Back

333   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 2003 (HC 195 Session 2003-2004: 23 January 2004), paragraph 4.11. Back

334   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 2003 (HC 195 Session 2003-2004: 23 January 2004), paragraph 4.11. Back

335   Committee of Public Accounts, Evidence Session 21 January 2004, Ministry of Defence: Operation Telic-United Kingdom Military Operations in Iraq, Q 170 Back

336   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-First Reflections (July 2003), paragraph 4.15. Back

337   Ev 397 Back

338   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-First Reflections (July 2003), para 4.15. Back

339   Ev 397 Back

340   Ev 397 Back

341   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-First Reflections (July 2003), para 4.15. Back

342   Ev 397 Back

343   National Audit Office, Ministry of Defence: Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Operations in Iraq (HC 60 Session 2003-04), paras 4.11-12. Back

344   Q 83 Back

345   Q 84 Back

346   Q 1329 Back

347   Ev 431 Back

348   Q 1332 Back

349   Q 1334 Back

350   Q 1339 Back

351   Q 86 Back

352   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future (December 2003), p 27. Back

353   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future (December 2003), para 6.18. Back

354   Ev 394 Back

355   Qq 1973-5 Back

356   Q 1975 Back

357   The Times, 30 December 2003. Back

358   Q 1977 Back

359   Q 1978 Back

360   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future (December 2003), para 6.21. Back

361   Q 1971 Back

362   Q 1971 Back

363   Q 1972 Back

364   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future (December 2003), para 6.17. Back

365   Q 1969 Back

366   Ministry of Defence, Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future (December 2003), para 6.17. Back

367   Q 1969 Back

368   Defence White Paper: Delivering Security in a Changing World, December 2003. Cm 6041-I Back

369   HC Deb, 11 December 2003, c1209 Back

370   HC Deb, 11 December 2003, c1210  Back

371   Q 1984 Back

372   Q1987 Back

373   Q1992 Back

374   Main Gate is the approval point between the Assessment Phase and the Demonstration and Manufacture Phase. At Main Gate, a Business Case is presented, which should recommend a single technical and procurement option. By Main Gate, risk should have been reduced to allow a high degree of confidence that the equipment project will be delivered to narrowly defined time, cost and performance parameters. Back

375   Ev 434 Back


 
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