3 The risks in the transition from
the current fleets |
12. Currently, FSTA is unable to fly into Afghanistan
as it does not have the necessary protection equipment to fly
into high threat environments.
The United Kingdom started operations in Afghanistan in 2001,
when the requirements for FSTA were still immature. However the
Department did not recognise the need for such equipment until
2006 in their Concept of Use document for FSTA and took the decision
not to include it in the contract negotiations to avoid further
delays, given the advanced stage negotiations were already at.
The Department's explanation for the delay in recognising such
a need was the significant difference in operational conditions
between 2001 and 2006, in particular the scale of the challenge
13. However, four years after this recognition, the
Department has still not yet decided whether it will install this
equipment on FSTA, citing that the need for FSTA to fly into high
threat environment is not completely self-evident.
The Department has also only indicative costs from AirTanker over
how much the modification work would cost and no funds have been
ring-fenced for such work. Given the proximity of the forthcoming
Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Department is now awaiting
the outcome to see if it concludes there is such a need and what
funding will be available before making a final judgement.
14. Furthermore if the Department does decide to
install this equipment, these are not quick modifications to make.
On security grounds the Department did not wish to provide a clear
indication of the time it might take, but estimated that a modification
developed from scratch would typically take at least two years.
In the meantime, the Department is extending the life of the Tristar
to allow it to fly into high threat environments, such as Afghanistan,
up to 2016 and at a cost of £23.5 million.
Until a decision is made to install this equipment, FSTA will
not be able to replace the Tristar fleet in its current role of
flying personnel in and out of Afghanistan.
30 Qq 97-98 Back
Qq 118-119; C&AG's Report, para 3.3 Back
Qq 116 and 125 Back
Qq 124-125 and 127 Back
Qq 126-127 Back
C&AG's Report, paras 2.1 and 3.5 Back
Q 190 Back