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Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Volume 477: debated on Friday 13 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Piranha V vehicles have been built and subjected to mine explosion tests of the type to which US candidates for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected programme have been exposed; and if he will publish the results. (208678)

The FRES Utility Vehicle protection requirements include those based upon latest Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and mine explosion threat assessments. The down selection of Piranha 5 as the provisionally preferred design for the FRES Utility Vehicle included an assessment of the current design and the ability to develop the design to meet the FRES protection requirements. Subject to Piranha 5 being confirmed as the preferred design, further work will be undertaken during the demonstration phase to confirm that Piranha 5 protection capabilities will meet the FRES requirement. This will include actual IED and mine explosion tests. None of the results of these assessments will be published as their disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces and commercial interests.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of (a) CRVT, (b) Saxon, (c) Warrior and (d) Challenger vehicles are (i) in service, (ii) fit for purpose and (iii) out of service. (209573)

The information requested is set out in the following table.

In service (total fleet)

Fit for purpose (currently available) (percentage)

Out of service (not available) (percentage)

CVR(T)

1,196

58

42

Saxon

147

97

3

Warrior

793

74

26

Challenger

345

95

5

‘In service’ has been defined as the total number in the vehicle fleet. ‘Fit for purpose’ has been defined as those that are available for use. This includes vehicles awaiting minor repairs and those currently in transit to operational theatres. ‘Out of service’ has been defined as those vehicles within the total fleet that are currently unavailable, including vehicles undergoing major repair, planned re-fit or awaiting a decision on disposal. This category includes vehicles destroyed on operations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the interoperability of the Future Rapid Effects System and the equivalent capabilities of other European countries. (210169)

The MOD has provisionally selected Piranha as the preferred FRES Utility Vehicle design. Our assessment is that Piranha 5 has the potential to meet the programme's interoperability requirements. This includes the requirement to be interoperable with NATO and other allies.

In the future, selection of designs to meet the requirements of the other vehicle families will similarly take account of interoperability.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the most recent planned in-service date for the Future Rapid Effects System is. (210170)

In common with all defence equipment programmes, the in-service dates for the Future Rapid Effect System family of armoured vehicles will be fixed at the main investment decisions. It is our policy not to release or discuss in-service dates ahead of the main investment decision.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions have taken place with General Dynamics on where the Future Rapid Effects System will be assembled; (210171)

(2) what requirements have been placed on General Dynamics to use the UK supply-chain of small and medium enterprises in the Future Rapid Effects System programme;

(3) what assessment has been made of when General Dynamics will have a demonstration vehicle ready for the Future Rapid Effects System programme;

(4) whether General Dynamics have specified a platform weight for the Future Rapid Effects System.

Where FRES vehicles will be assembled has been the subject of discussions with all the companies participating in the initial wave of competitions to select the Utility Vehicle (UV) Design, the UV Integrator and the System of Systems Integrator. The specific provision in the FRES Acquisition Strategy covering vehicle manufacture also featured in the documentation issued to the companies involved.

There have been no further discussions with General Dynamics on where vehicles will be assembled since the announcement on 8 May 2008 that Piranha 5 had been selected as the provisionally preferred UV Design.

No specific requirements have been placed on General Dynamics to use the UK supply-chain of small and medium enterprises in the Future Rapid Effect System programme. Promoting the use of UK-based small and medium enterprises where they add value to the programme is, however, clearly desirable.

The assessment of when a demonstration vehicle would be available was an area of focus during the Utility Vehicle trials in 2007, as was specifying a platform weight for the Future Rapid Effect System. Our assessment is continuing and these areas will remain a focus during the forthcoming programme of risk reduction work that will address a number of commercial, programme and technical issues.

Only when the MOD is satisfied on all the issues being addressed during the programme of risk reduction work, including when a demonstration vehicle will be available and a platform weight specified, will General Dynamics achieve preferred bidder status and these decisions will be made.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is a requirement of the Future Rapid Effects System programme that it should be able to be transported in an aircraft. (210175)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on the Future Rapid Effects System programme. (210176)

Expenditure to 31 March 2008 on the Future Rapid Effect System since the launch of the assessment phase in 2004 is £130 million.