Select Committee on Defence Second Special Report


ANNEX

CONDUCT OF THE AIR CAMPAIGN

It has not proved possible to disentangle exactly the degree to which the supply of aircraft dictated the tempo of the campaign or the requirements of the commanders dictated the rate of supply of aircraft. But it was made clear to us in informal discussions that the commanders did not feel, at all stages of the operation, that they had the right number of aircraft to sustain the appropriate tempo of operations. (Para 85)

28. UK and NATO aircraft were operating at a relatively low tempo during Operation ALLIED FORCE, and were available for higher rates of tasking if required. The aircraft provided by the UK matched those requested by NATO, and the UK was willing to provide additional aircraft if asked.

The Alliance was at times hamstrung in pursuing an effective campaign against targets of strategic value while it continued to maintain publicly that it was attacking only forces of facilities involved either directly or indirectly in ethnic cleansing. Politicians demanded that this was to be presented as a campaign of denial not a war against Serbia. By doing so, they may have confused Belgrade as well as NATO commanders. (Para 89)

Ambivalence in the North Atlantic Council about authorising the strikes against 'strategic' targets was, we conclude, unhelpful to military planning and contributed to the mixed signals that were sent to Milosevic, the NATO military and the public of the allied nations (and Serbia). That mixed message may have further undermined NATO's capacity to signal its determination in the early stages of the bombing campaign to see through to the end what it had begun. (Para 98)

Air strikes targeted at the Serbian population in general were never at the heart of Alliance strategy, but from the outset of the bombing campaign, both aspects of the Alliance's strategy - coercion and denial - may have suffered from a politically engendered uncertainty over what effect the campaign was supposed to have on whom. (Para 100).

29. The Government does not accept the claim that the Alliance was "hamstrung" as suggested. Targets for air strikes were selected by NATO military planners on the basis of generic guidance issued by the NAC on broad sets of target categories. International law requires that all targets of military action must be of military value, and this shaped targeting policy. This reinforces the fact that the air campaign was aimed explicitly at Milosevic's military capability, rather than at the Yugoslav/Serbian people, a message that was repeatedly underlined by Alliance leaders. See paragraph 14 above on the use of the word "denial".

Much of the time the strategies of coercion and the tactics of denial did not sit easily together, sending some confusing signals both to the Serbian leadership and to NATO's own publics, as well as dividing the military efforts of the Alliance in a less than efficient way. The stated objective of the air campaign was 'to avert a humanitarian catastrophe' but it is evident that in its effects the campaign was, at best, an indirect approach to achieving this objective, and indeed failed, in the short term, to achieve it. (Para 91).

Despite some success in bottling-up Serbian forces, the strikes against fielded forces in Kosovo unarguably failed in their declared primary objective of averting a humanitarian disaster. The limitations of airpower in pursuit of such humanitarian goals were clearly demonstrated, and this lesson must be learned. (Para 117)

In relation to the effectiveness of these strikes as part of the coercive strategy, the evidence of the relatively poor kill rate against Serbian armour can only lead us to the conclusion that the contribution of this axis of the bombing campaign to achieving the Alliance's overall objectives was, at best, marginal. (Para 118)

30. Further to paragraph 14 above, the dual axes of the operation against strategic and tactical targets were complementary, and both contributed to the achievement of the Alliance's objective of averting a humanitarian catastrophe. The air offensive undoubtedly constrained the ability of Serb forces to pursue their objectives, by bottling up Serb forces as the Committee recognises, forcing them to go to ground.

To have launched an all-out air attack against Serbia on 24 March would have destroyed the cohesion of the Alliance. On the other hand, the Alliance's graduated approach to the air campaign evidently failed to convince Milosevic that the subsequent escalation of the campaign would happen. (Para 94).

31. Further to paragraph 25 above, Milosevic could have been under no misconception of the Alliance's ability and intention to intensify the air operation in successive phases, and its determination to continue the air campaign as long as required.

While direct political intervention was not evident in Operation Allied Force, at least in the UK, political priorities still impinged very directly on decision making at the operational level. That political and legal concern with targeting decisions is a fact of life with which the military are going to have to learn to live in operations of this kind. That does not mean that both the military and civilian side of the process do not need to work hard to minimise the negative effects of such close political scrutiny on the conduct of essentially political operations. (Para 96).

32. Agreed. Political control of military operations is a central principle of democratic societies, but it is essential that in exercising this responsibility and making decisions, political leaders take full account of military and legal advice. However, it is simplistic to regard the Kosovo air campaign as an "essentially political" operation.

Currently, the non-US members of NATO, including the UK, do not have SEAD capabilities sufficient to allow operations such as those in Kosovo without US support. There is a risk of divergence in the Alliance if the US decides to pursue stealth technology as its main technique for defeating air defence systems, because if as a result it allows its electronic counter measures systems to become obsolescent, the protection they currently afford to other Allies' aircraft will wither. As the expense of stealth technology is probably beyond the reach of many European Allies' pockets or political will, they may have to choose between developing their own systems to protect their more vulnerable aircraft, or relinquishing the strike role to the US Air Force. The alarming deficit in European capabilities for suppressing and destroying even relatively unsophisticated air defences suggests that Europe must either accept that its scope for action independent of the US is very limited indeed, or face up to the requirement of improving its capabilities sufficiently for it to act independently. (Paras 110 & 111).

33. Although European Allies, including the UK, possess SEAD capabilities, it is accepted that these are not adequate at present to permit Europeans alone to prosecute a military campaign on the scale of Operation ALLIED FORCE. But it is unlikely that we would seek to undertake an operation of this scale outside the Alliance. Our objective in developing European capabilities is to both strengthen NATO and the ability of the European Union (EU) to act where NATO as a whole is not engaged. The Government agrees that a technology gap must not be allowed to emerge between members of the Alliance in this or other areas, and is seeking to minimise this risk through its work with its partners in NATO's Defence Capabilities Initiative (DCI) and the European Headline Goal.

The relative levels of apparent effectiveness against aircraft in the air and on the ground may at least give some pause for thought as to the balance between ground attack and air defence capabilities in the UK's inventory of aircraft. These need to be considered carefully if Operation Allied Force is to be seen as representing any kind of template for future air operations in which the UK and NATO are likely to become engaged. In neither the Gulf War nor in Kosovo did the enemy get any significant air forces off the ground. If this is a pattern likely to hold true in the future, the Alliance and its constituent nations may need to reconsider their long-term procurement policies relating to aircraft. (Para 120).

34. The UK has aimed to maintain a balance of air power capability. The fact that recent opponents have been unable to challenge the air superiority of either NATO or the coalitions in which the UK has participated is evidence of the effectiveness of our air defence capabilities. But the importance of ground attack capability remains clear, and greater utility of air platforms is certainly desirable, underpinning our continuing policy to develop Eurofighter as a multi-role aircraft.

Little detailed analysis was conducted of how Milosevic and his élite would be likely to react as the target of a coercive campaign. There was insufficient understanding within the Alliance of the character and mentality of the dictator. (Para 123).

The key factor in this campaign was the need to understand the Milosevic régime's perceptions and to identify the levers that could be used to influence those perceptions. In this task, neither the MOD nor NATO were effective. (Para 260).

35. As the Committee was informed, it was very difficult to penetrate the thought processes of Milosevic and his elite but we had a reasonable understanding of the complexity of his personality, including the impetus for political power and survival, which often led him to change his position at short notice. His past record also demonstrated that he was unpredictable and potentially dangerous. On the question of how he was likely to react to the air campaign, we judged that he would not necessarily concede quickly and that his domestic position might be strengthened in the short term.

A key role of strategic intelligence is to provide planners and policymakers with analysis of an adversary's future options so they are not caught unprepared and 'surprised' by events. The UK's and NATO's analysts cannot be expected to predict with certainty the future actions of a régime or individual. Nonetheless, it is striking that they appeared to have failed to warn policy-makers of the full range of options open to Milosevic and the likelihood of his use of symmetric responses, thereby leading to surprises for which the Alliance was unprepared. (Paras 195 & 197).

36. The Government agrees that a key role of strategic intelligence is to provide policy-makers and planners with an analysis of an adversary's future options, but it cannot be expected to make predictions with absolute certainty. For the reasons outlined in the paragraph above, this was particularly the case with Milosevic. But, as the Committee was informed, a great deal of intelligence was available, including the prospect of a major offensive in the Spring of 1999 which would have a major impact on the civilian population. Options analysis and scenario analysis are recognised tools of intelligence, and appropriate use was made of them during the crisis.

Some of the strategic targets selected appear difficulty to justify. No clear explanation of the decision to bomb the Danube bridges at Novi Sad yet appears to have been given. The attack on the TV station - though undoubtedly of some military worth - appears to have been only marginal in its effects on Serbian command and control capabilities. It seems impossible to disentangle the relative effects of these attacks in fomenting opposition to the Belgrade régime and in hardening nationalist sentiment, or assess the final balance of advantage to the Alliance between the effects. The final lesson must be that any decision to use airpower in pursuit of a coercive strategy must be approached with a combination of caution and determination. The Alliance, underprovided with intelligence, and uncertain about whether it was pursuing a strategy of coercion or denial, contained both approaches within it - but did not reach a consensus about where the right balance between the two lay. (Para 124).

37. The Alliance applied its air power both with caution and determination in pursuit of the objectives and strategy addressed at paragraphs 14 and 30 above. Military operations always contain large areas of uncertainty requiring possible shifts in strategy.

The lessons of the failure to agree on how to enforce an oil embargo should be learned so that they may be applied in future circumstances. (Para 125).

38. The reasons why a naval oil embargo operation was not mounted have been explained in written evidence. This experience will shape our approach to similar situations in the future.

There is a general consensus that all was not well with NATO and UK BDA. Work to improve battle damage assessment capability is overdue. (Para 127).

39. As stated in the Memorandum submitted to the Committee by the Ministry of Defence on 1 March 2000, the UK's Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) and targeting process has been fully reviewed. The recommendations for action were included in the Memorandum and listed in Chapter 7 of the Ministry of Defence's report "Kosovo: Lessons from the Crisis" (Cm 4724). The recommendations are being included in future Standing Operations Procedures. BDA doctrine, policy and procedures are currently being developed within NATO and should be completed this year.

For the MOD to say that 'enough' damage was done is not good enough. The MOD, and the Alliance more generally, cannot simply rely on the response that because Milosevic conceded, the campaign was a success. (Para 128).

40. The fact that the international community and the Alliance achieved their joint objectives is the essential measure of the success of their efforts. Any other approach is seeking a standard of perfection only achievable in theory. But the Government is in no way complacent, and agrees that there should be a critical look at how things could have done better. A number of lessons learned exercises have been completed, or are still under development and review.

NATO needs to have an improved and standardised target approval methodology in future. The level of national scrutiny should be limited to only the most sensitive targets. US sensitivity to releasing certain types of information greatly inhibited combined planning and operations in some areas. NATO must ensure that combat assessment teams are staffed by those who would not have restrictions of their access to information because of its classification. Sufficient analysis needs to have been carried out before hostilities begin to enable targets to be matched with specific mission objectives. (Para 129 & 237).

41. NATO has re-examined its targeting doctrine, policy and procedures and some improvements have already been made, such as improving target co-ordination and selection with nations, and others are under consideration. Nations are responsible for the clearance of the targets allocated to them by the NATO Military Authorities.

The operation was launched on the basis of over-optimistic assumptions about its duration and intensity, and this suggests some failure of planning on the part of the MOD. (Para 133).

42. Further to paragraphs 25 and 31 above, the UK and NATO were prepared for the operation to continue for as long as required. Further to paragraph 28, aircraft were operated and supplied in response to requests from Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and further aircraft would have been made available had this been required.

Given the centrality of the two future aircraft carriers to the SDR strategy, the evidence that Invincible's carrier air group may not have been optimally constructed or tasked during the air campaign raises some significant questions that will need to be addressed in the acquisition of the UK's future carrier-borne aircraft. (Para 138)

43. Lessons from Operation ALLIED FORCE and other deployments will be taken into account in decisions on the future carrier programme.

Overall, despite the heroic efforts of UK aircrew and support staff, we must conclude that the UK's contribution to the air campaign, in terms of actual fire power rather than support, was somewhat disappointing. (Para 139)

44. The Government welcomes the Committee's tribute to the efforts of UK aircrew and support staff, but disagrees with the Committee's overall assessment of the UK's contribution. Indeed, we did everything we were asked to do and we did it extremely effectively. Further to paragraphs 28 and 41 above, the aircraft which the UK made available for the operation were those which were requested by NATO. Contributing about seven percent of total NATO strike aircraft, the UK conducted some ten percent of strike sorties. The number of munitions dropped by UK aircraft was significant, with their performance assessed as generally in line with expectations, but also important is the fact that UK aircraft returned to base with their munitions or jettisoned them if there was any doubt about the target selected. The UK also played a key role in other aspects of the international community's efforts.

EQUIPMENT

The most serious shortcoming in UK capabilities shown-up by the air campaign was the lack of a precision-guided weapon capable of being used in all weathers against static and mobile targets. By the end of the campaign, precision-guided weapons had accounted for only 24% of the weapons used by the RAF. (Para 140).

45. The Government agrees that, although Tomahawk provided an excellent capability in these conditions, overall there was a lack of all-weather precision-guided weaponry. However, the Government has taken action to meet the shortcomings identified in our analysis of operations in Kosovo. In July, the Defence Secretary announced immediate enhancements to the equipment capabilities of the Armed Forces. These were:

  • the procurement of weapons to provide RAF Tornado GR4s with a precision guided all-weather bombing capability as soon as possible. We have since announced that we will be purchasing enhanced Paveway Bombs from Raytheon and we expect to have an agreed contract by the end of the year;

  • enhancement of the security of air-to-air communications for key aircraft types in order to maintain interoperability with NATO Allies. Trials have taken place and work is going ahead to fit equipment to aircraft. Good progress is being made and the work is expected to be completed over the next few months.

These are the most pressing capability shortfalls to emerge from Kosovo and we are acting now on them.

The Committee will also be aware that both Stormshadow and Brimstone are due into service in 2002 and that the full precision guided bombing capability will be in service by 2006. These weapon systems will greatly enhance our ability to strike targets in poor weather conditions.

It is regrettable that, like other examples in this report, the Tornado mid-life update is another programme in which delays have prevented new and improved systems being available for the Kosovo campaign. The MOD and the contractors - BAE Systems - must get this programme back on track, and prevent any further delay. (Para 143).

46. Since its relaunch in 1993 the Tornado mid-life update programme had run successfully to time and budget. Notwithstanding this good progress, the GR4 would not have been expected to be operational by the time of the Kosovo campaign.

More recently, the integration of TIALD on to the Tornado GR4, as anticipated, achieved a Military Aircraft Release in July this year and is being used in training by our front-line crews. As experience has increased in using the new software, a number of reliability problems have been encountered with integration of the software supporting the TIALD pod with the Tornado GR4's computer. These problems are being urgently addressed by the contractor, who is working on a new release of software which is expected early next year. We are therefore delaying plans to deploy the GR4 operationally. The contractor, supported by the MOD, has embarked upon an urgent investigation into the cause of the current problems, and will report progress shortly. In the meantime, Tornado GR1, Jaguar and Harrier GR7 aircraft will continue to provide the required operational capability.

The need to retrain pilots and reactivate techniques for using unguided bombs suggests a lack of foresight. The MOD's professed faith in the great utility of 'dumb' bombing in the Kosovo campaign suggests that it has been economical with the truth, if not attempting to mislead us. Dumb bombs may be more 'reliable' in the particular sense of the term as used by the MOD, but their future utility in peace support missions undertaken by a perhaps reluctant Alliance will be limited by the operational and political constraints of such endeavours. (Para 145).

47. Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs) are more likely to deliver consistent results, and are therefore preferable in certain scenarios, including many in the NATO air campaign where the emphasis was on the minimisation of collateral damage. Nevertheless, as the Committee has already commented elsewhere, weather conditions made it difficult for the UK to use PGMs in all circumstances. In such cases, where the target is suitable (e.g. a large target with limited risk of collateral damage), use of unguided bombs may be appropriate, and can be assisted considerably by the use of GPS aircraft location. In the Kosovo air campaign, and as the Committee was told in oral evidence, the technique required for this type of operation is simple, but trials were conducted to prove its accuracy, which was important in an operation of this nature. In light of these facts and the evidence supplied to the Committee, the Government does not accept the suggestion that MOD has been economical with the truth or in any way attempted to mislead the Committee.

Over 50% of the bombs dropped by the RAF were cluster bombs. The Secretary of State's claim that cluster bombs are 'the most effective weapons' for an anti-armour ground attack task does not, we believe, apply to the circumstances of this campaign. At the very least their reputation as an indiscriminate weapon risks international condemnation, undermining popular support for an action. The UK needs a more discriminatory anti-armour system in order to move to an early end to reliance upon recourse to these weapons in inappropriate circumstances. (Paras 147 & 150).

48. The UK will always use the weapons systems judged most effective against a given target, taking into account the need to minimise collateral damage. In Kosovo, cluster bombs were regarded as the most appropriate weapon to use in a number of scenarios. The Government agrees that experience of the operation in Kosovo has suggested that a capability to strike static, mobile and armoured targets more accurately would be desirable, and it is for this reason that it has decided to acquire the Maverick missile.

It is clear that for air-to-ground attack, and even for just an anti-armour capability, a mix of weapons is required which the UK does not currently possess. (Para 152).

49. The UK already possesses a good mix of weaponry for a wide range of scenarios, but improvements to the armoury are planned. Our analysis of operations in Kosovo identified a number of important equipment capability lessons. One of the highest priorities is the need for improvements to our capability to attack static, mobile targets with precision in all weather conditions.

A contract has been placed for the Maverick anti-armour missile that is due to enter service in February 2001. Maverick is a proven weapon that will provide the RAF Harrier GR7 with the ability to attack armoured and mobile targets with precision.

We have also initiated work that will provide the RAF with a precision guided all-weather bombing capability as soon as possible. Use of Global Positioning Satellite technology will allow us to overcome problems like those caused by poor weather during the Kosovo campaign. It is planned that procurement will commence during 2001, on completion of a successful flight trial. Both new precision weapons will help us to limit the risk of civilian casualties.

In addition to the Kosovo related enhancements, both Stormshadow and Brimstone are due into service in 2002 and the full precision guided bombing capability is due to be in service by 2006. These weapon systems will greatly enhance our ability to strike targets in poor weather conditions.

We recommend that, in the light of the experience of the utility of Tomahawk for use against tactical and mobile targets the MOD reconsider the decision to stick with the current standard of the TLAM. It is important that the UK should be able to capitalise on the success of cruise missiles in Operation Allied Force, and we look to the Department in its response to this report to set out its strategy for defining its long-range precision-guided land attack capability and the mix of air and sea launched systems it intends to acquire or maintain. (Paras 156 & 157).

50. The Block IIIC Tomahawk Land Attack Missile is a highly capable weapon system, which fully meets our requirements for a coercive capability in terms of accuracy, weight of ordnance and the ability to attack the likely target set. The Department presently has no plans to purchase the Block IV variant which the US is currently developing as vertical launch only. This variant can be redirected in flight and may be cheaper to maintain. However, the Committee will be aware that initial joint research with the US has been undertaken to determine the feasibility of developing a torpedo tube launched variant of the Block IV missile that could be deployed in our submarines should we subsequently decide to procure it. This variant of the missile is the only type that will be available for replenishment of UK stocks in the event that any of the Block III arsenal is expended.

The Department continually assesses its capability requirements against likely threats and procures (and maintains) a balanced mix of weapons systems to reflect this. The UK's Block IIIC Tomahawk provides a strategic capability, to be deployed primarily in the early stages of a crisis as part of the effort to prevent the crisis deteriorating into conflict. For this reason, its use as a warfighting weapon in Kosovo should not be seen as typical: it was providing an all-weather precision attack capability to be used in high intensity operations against high value targets such as communications infrastructure, storage depots or surface to air missile sites. Different inventories of each system have been procured to reflect this balance.

That our pilots could not communicate securely and that they could not always communicate with American pilots was a major shortcoming. That NATO should be surprised at the use of this new, more secure but non-interoperable system by the Americans suggests either a woefully poor speed of response or exchange of information within NATO on a vital matter, or a worrying degree of isolationism on the part of the USAF. We expect the government to set out a precise timetable for remedying this problem. (Para 158).

51. The requirement to enhance the security of aircraft communications was one of three high priority Kosovo related measures, as detailed in paragraph 45 above. Good progress is being made and the work is expected to be completed over the next few months.

Work on joint digitisation of the battlespace should be hastened. (Para 160)

52. Recent experience has confirmed the importance of the Joint Battlespace Digitisation (JBD) initiative. Work since 1998 to achieve information superiority across the joint battlespace is addressing the most significant capability gaps. To drive this work forward we have made a number of important organisational innovations. We have established an Integration Authority to achieve the necessary interoperability of operational systems across defence, and we have established a Director General of Information who is working to ensure better exploitation of information for all Defence purposes. We have also begun developing new operational policy for the concept of Command and Battlespace Management (CBM), which covers people and processes as well as hardware and software.

Operation Allied Force revealed just how limited is the capability UK forces possess to find mobile forces and, once they have been found, to target and engage them rapidly before they can move again. The momentum behind developing the capability of Phoenix to provide targeting data to strike aircraft must be maintained. (Paras 161 & 164).

53. In order to engage mobile targets more effectively in all weathers, we (and our Allies) need to improve Intelligence, Surveillance and Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability. For the UK, the introduction of the ASTOR system will significantly increase our capability, supplementing existing systems such as the PHOENIX UAV and Allied capabilities such as JSTARS. This will allow us to make faster attacks on targets.

Work continues on the technologies to enable the provision of targeting information to strike aircraft. The capability has been demonstrated in various trials including trials involving the PHOENIX UAV. The concept is sufficiently well developed that a useful operational capability could be deployed at short notice, although more general introduction to aircraft fleets is subject to the wider priorities of the equipment programme.

The MOD must set out how it is going to ensure that the tanker fleet is sufficient for likely future needs and that new tankers become available soon enough to replace the present ageing fleet before they are obsolete. There have been suggestions made of establishing a European tanker fleet - this is clearly an area where wholesale duplication by each of the Allies of this capability is likely to be inefficient. It will be essential that the UK's own requirement is addressed in the wider context of the European-NATO shortfall in this capability. (Para 166)

54. The Government shares the Committee's recognition of the importance of air-to-air refuelling (AAR) and will ensure that the UK maintains a capability commensurate with its requirement. That the UK made a significant contribution to AAR in Kosovo is notable, and that the Government welcomes the Committee's acknowledgement of this fact.

The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) is planned to replace the current VC10 and TriStar fleets from around 2007. We are investigating the potential for achieving a service based solution to the requirement under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). We are discussing our respective AAR projects with a number of European and NATO nations. AAR is clearly identified within the Defence Capabilities Initiative as a major capability requiring attention, with shortfalls made up and older equipment replaced. Innovative solutions to the current capability deficiency are being sought under Netherlands chairmanship.

Increased strategic lift is of critical importance for the realisation of European aspirations to have a genuine European rapid reaction military crisis management credibility. The credibility of the current order for strategic lift, and of the balance between air and sealift, needs further examination. (Paras 171 & 172)

55. The Government agrees that strategic lift is of critical importance. That is why, as the Committee knows, we have announced selection of the preferred bidder to provide a six-ship PFI strategic sealift service, and are leasing four C-17s to meet the short-term outsized strategic airlift requirement until we receive 25 A400M aircraft, which will provide the long-term outsized airlift capability, in the latter part of the decade.

The balance of investment is driven by the need to deploy in the necessary timescales lead elements of the JRRF by air, with the majority of the heavy equipment following by sea. The Government's recent response to the Committee's 10th Report (on Major Project Procurements) set out in detail how we had reached our conclusions on this balance. The lessons learned in the Kosovo campaign informed that process.

The DCI addresses the shortfalls in capability in this area, and work is being taken forward on both strategic sealift and airlift. The European Airlift Group continues its work on potential closer integration of national strategic airlift assets.

Without the continued support of the Greek and Macedonian authorities, sometimes in the face of considerable domestic opposition, KFOR's logistics resupply would have been compromised. Those politicians in these countries who stood by NATO exercised considerable political courage. (Para 173).

56. The Government fully endorses the Committee's comment.

The resort to cannibalising front-line aircraft in order to keep up the deployed Sea Harriers' availability is clearly a matter to be taken up by the new joint Task Force Harrier's command. We expect to be kept informed of any continuing incidents of damage to the Sea Harrier's fuselage-mounted missiles. (Paras 153 and 176).

57. The Joint Force Harrier is addressing these issues, and the Committee will be kept informed of developments. The problem of AMRAAM carriage in certain Sea Harrier weapons configurations is the subject of continuing in-service trials work, but trials since the potential problem was first identified, together with a longer period of time carrying the missiles, have shown the damage to be much less than feared, and containable within current stock levels and maintenance routines.

At the outset of the campaign it was intended that all weapons used would be precision guided: in fact the majority of weapons used were not. The MOD's relaxed attitude to the rate of consumption of precision guided munitions during Operation Allied Force depends far too much on the efforts of extraneous factors on the rate of use. There is no doubt that more unguided weapons were used during the campaign than it was intended at the outset. We would agree that the UK's smart weapon capability needs to be reviewed, but this review needs to be urgent and radical in the light of the lessons of Operation Allied Force. (Paras 178, 179 & 180).

The current balance struck between stockpiles of precision guided munitions and reliance on the ability to replenish those stocks at short notice may carry too high a risk to the ability of the RAF and Royal Navy to support certain types of operations for any length of time. Despite the MOD's confident assertions that stockpile levels had no direct impact on operational decisions, we conclude from the evidence we have taken that, had a significantly higher percentage of sorties led to weapons release or had the weather allowed a greater use of precision guided munitions, then stock levels could have been a constraint affecting the UK's contribution to the operation. (Para 182)

58. Stockpiles of PGMs were put under some pressure due to the prolonged nature of the operation, but the majority of the stockpile remained at the end of the operation. Contingency measures were in place to ensure that additional weapons would be available if necessary, although these were not in the event required. Current PGM stockpile guidance is being reviewed in the light of this experience. The extent of the use of PGMs and unguided weapons, and future smart weapon capability is addressed at paragraphs 47 and 45 above respectively, and also paragraph 48 on Maverick.


 
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