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Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Volume 458: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to change the future rapid effect system programme; and if he will make a statement. (124987)

The Department reviewed the future rapid effect system (FRES) programme in 2006 to take account of our experience on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the light of recent developments in vehicle technology and protection systems. This review aimed to ensure we deliver the best possible vehicles able to meet the operational needs of the British Army through life.

The review also covered aspects of the procurement strategy, highlighting the need for an open systems architecture and the vital importance of UK residence for intellectual property underpinning the FRES systems. This point was praised by the House of Commons Defence Committee in their report entitled ‘The Army's requirement for armoured fighting vehicles: the FRES programme' published on 21 February 2007.

This review was completed last year. The procurement strategy has now been announced and we are now making rapid progress on the FRES programme with candidate vehicle designs undergoing proving trials this summer and the winning vehicle(s) selected by November 2007 to proceed to the next stage. It is essential to carry out this detailed assessment of the candidate vehicle designs and to drive out programme risk before the major investment decision is taken. Wednesday 14 March