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Equipment Programme

Volume 572: debated on Monday 16 December 2013

11. Which urgent operational requirements he plans to bring into the core Ministry of Defence equipment programme. (901488)

The future of equipment bought through the urgent operational requirement process for operations in Afghanistan is currently being considered, with a departmental provision of £1.5 billion to support such equipment over the next 10 years. I can confirm to my hon. Friend that we have already decided to bring some 2,000 protected mobility vehicles into the core programme, including 71 Coyote, 325 Husky, 441 Jackal, 439 Mastiff, 169 Ridgback and 60 Warthog vehicles. That represents a significant increase in the Army’s protected mobility capability, which I am sure he will welcome.

I welcome that very comprehensive answer. I am pleased that we will make the maximum use of the equipment that was purchased for Afghanistan and that the Government are determined to increase the capability of the Army in Europe. What cost implications will that have for the core equipment programme, and will it have an impact on other aspects of the programme?

As I said to my hon. Friend in my fairly comprehensive initial answer, we have allocated £1.5 billion, which is essentially to support the elements being brought back into the core. The original capital cost was more than £5 billion in Iraq, and, I think, £7.6 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. That is of course money that has already been spent, so it is not a continuing drain on the Ministry of Defence budget.

The Government previously announced that the cost of the Vanguard successor programme would be part of the MOD main core equipment budget. I note that today the Minister has published a document on the costings of the assessment phase of Vanguard. It makes reference to the alternatives review. Will he inform the House when the Department will be in a position to tell us the cost of that review?

I am sure that you would agree, Mr Speaker, that the successor programme could scarcely be described as an urgent operational requirement.

Let me take the House back to urgent operational requirements and the fairly comprehensive answer given by my hon. Friend. Will he update the House on the progress of the Foxhound vehicle, which began life as an urgent operational requirement and is now part of the core programme and performing very well?

With great pleasure, as my hon. Friend played a key role in commissioning the Foxhound vehicle. As he will recall, it was commissioned under the urgent operational requirement procedure but was always regarded as a core piece of equipment. We are well on the way to delivering 400 Foxhound vehicles to the British Army.