Select Committee on Defence Third Report

1  Introduction


1. In an increasingly volatile world, it is vital that the UK's Armed Forces are properly configured, equipped and supported. The 2003 Defence White Paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World,[1] set out the case for flexible Armed Forces to meet the threats of the post-Cold War world. In 2003, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) commissioned a review of its logistics provision for air and land forces on the premise that the Armed Forces supply chain should reflect this flexibility. The report, Streamlining End to End Air and Land Logistics[2] (subsequently referred to as the End to End Review) was described by MoD as "a comprehensive review of logistics process, from the front line to industry".[3]

2. The End to End Review identified potential opportunities for increased flexibility and efficiency savings in the logistics support chain. The key points were announced on 16 September 2004:[4]

  • The four lines of aircraft maintenance would be reduced to two: "forward" and "depth";
  • the Harrier Joint Upgrade Maintenance Programme (JUMP) would be concentrated "forward" at RAF Cottesmore;[5]
  • Depth support for the Tornado GR4 aircraft would be concentrated "forward" at RAF Marham;
  • By contrast, support for rotary wing aircraft would be concentrated "back" to DARA Fleetlands;
  • The MoD would explore, with the Welsh Development Agency and other Government Departments, alternative options for DARA St Athan, previously the hub of Harrier and Tornado GR4 deep maintenance.

3. This announcement was noted by our predecessors on the Defence Committee who expressed concern that "the new arrangements at RAF Marham will need to match, if not exceed, the high standards set by the skilled workers at DARA St Athan".[6]

Our inquiry

4. On 21 July 2005, this Committee announced that it would be inquiring into:

As part of our inquiry, we visited RAF Marham on 16 November 2005 and DARA St Athan on 21 November 2005.

5. In undertaking our inquiry, we took oral evidence at the Civic Centre, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, on 21 November 2005 from representatives of the main Trades Unions at DARA St Athan (Amicus, Prospect and PCS Union) and Mr Archie Hughes, Chief Executive of DARA. We also took oral evidence at Westminster on 29 November 2005 from Mr Stephen Hill, former Chief Executive of DARA, and from Rt Hon Adam Ingram MP, Minister for the Armed Forces, Air Vice Marshal Barry Thornton, Director General, Logistics (Strike), and Mr Nicholas Evans, Director General, Management and Organisation, MoD.

6. We are grateful to all those who provided oral and written evidence to our inquiry and assisted with our visits. We are also grateful to the specialist advisers who assisted us: Mr Paul Beaver, Professor David Kirkpatrick and Air Vice Marshal Professor Tony Mason.

1   Cm 6041 Back

2   Streamlining End to End Air and Land Logistics, 1 July 2003, JJ Dowdy McKinsey & Co.  Back

3   Ev 49 Back

4   HC Deb, 16 September 2004, c 164-165 Back

5   The JUMP is a programme which will upgrade all Harrier GR7 aircraft to GR9. Back

6   Future Capabilities, 17 March 2005, HC 45-1  Back

7 Back

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