The Major Projects Report 2010 - Public Accounts Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence from the Ministry of Defence


The SDSR announced a new set of Defence Planning Assumptions, which envisage that the Armed Forces in the future will be sized and shaped to conduct:

  • an enduring stabilisation operation at around brigade level (up to 6,500 personnel) with maritime and air support as required, while also conducting;
  • one non-enduring complex intervention (up to 2,000 personnel); and
  • one non-enduring simple intervention (up to 1,000 personnel);

OR alternatively:

  • three non-enduring operations if we were not already engaged in an enduring operation;


  • for a limited time, and with sufficient warning, committing all our effort to a one-off intervention of up to three brigades, with maritime and air support (around 30,000, two-thirds of the force deployed to Iraq in 2003).

The Forces available to deliver this include:

  • Royal Navy: the deterrent; a new carrier strike capability, routinely operating a mix of aircraft including 12 Joint Strike Fighter fast jets; three Commando specialist high readiness brigade and amphibious shipping which can land and sustain up to 1,800 marines from the sea; 19 frigates and destroyers, and maritime helicopters that can operate from them; seven hunter-killer submarines; 14 mine countermeasure vessels; ISTAR and logistic support vessels.
  • Army: one specialist high readiness brigade; five multi-role brigades (one at high readiness) for intervention and stabilisation operations; a new range of medium weight armoured vehicles including the Scout reconnaissance vehicle and in due course the Future Rapid Effects System Utility Vehicle; Precision Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System; Army helicopters including Apache and Wildcat. A range of ISTAR capabilities including Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicles; and a range of capabilities to counter explosive ordinance and Improvised Explosive Devices.
  • Royal Air Force: a fast jet fleet of the most capable combat aircraft based around Typhoon and Joint Strike Fighters, armed with a range of sophisticated air launched weapons including the Storm Shadow cruise missile; a modernised transport and tanker fleet based on C-17, A400M and A330; support helicopters including Chinook, Merlin and Puma; a range of manned and unmanned aircraft for ISTAR tasks; and RAF Regiment Force Protection squadrons at high readiness to protect deployed aircraft and personnel in hostile areas.
  • Service Manpower: by 2015, the Royal Navy will have c.30,000 personnel, the Army will have c.95,000 personnel and the Royal Air Force will have c.33,000 personnel.

1.  The Deployed Force: The Deployed Force consists of those forces engaged on operations. Today, this includes the forces deployed in Afghanistan from the High Readiness Force. It also includes those forces which conduct permanent operations essential to our security. These include, for example, the aircraft providing UK air defence, our maritime presence in the South Atlantic and the nuclear deterrent.

2.  The High Readiness Force: The High Readiness Force allows us to react rapidly to crises. This could include the UK's contribution to a multinational operation. But the forces are held principally to allow us to respond to scenarios in which we act alone to protect our national security interests, for example to conduct hostage rescue or counter-terrorism operations. The force includes a balanced range of highly capable land, air and maritime capabilities able to meet our Defence Planning Assumptions.

3.  The Lower Readiness Force: The Lower Readiness Force includes those forces recently returned from operations which are focused on recovery and those preparing to enter a period of high readiness. These forces support enduring operations and can provide additional flexibility, including where we have discretion over the scale or duration of our contribution to multinational operations.


Astute: The Submarine Enterprise Efficiency Programme will improve commercial arrangements and efficiency across the whole submarine construction programme, including Astute, over the next decade, delivering substantial savings. The numbers of Astute submarines remains unchanged.

Joint Strike Fighter: We have decided to change JSF variant from the Short Take Off Vertical Landing model to the Carrier Variant. We will plan for up to twelve of these aircraft to be routinely embarked on the future carrier at any one time.

Future Carrier: We will complete the construction of the Future carriers (CVF) but will plan to operate only one. CVF will be fitted with catapults and arresting gear, delaying the in service date from 2016 to 2020.

Tornado GR4: A reduced Tornado GR4 fleet will be retained, and the commitment to Op HERRICK will be maintained.

Nimrod MRA4: The Programme has been deleted.

Airborne STandOff Radar (ASTOR): The ASTOR system and the Sentinel aircraft which carries it will be withdrawn from service once no longer required for Operations in Afghanistan.

The above capability and programme changes form part of the agreed SDSR package and are being taken forward as part of the Planning Round. It is possible that the precise terms of the measures will change during the formal costing process. The SDSR announcement included no other measures with direct impact on MPR programmes, although additional measures will be raised during the remainder of the Planning Round in order to meet the savings targets set in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and these may include additional impacts on MPR projects.

January 2011

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