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DEFENCE

Joint Force Harrier

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his future plans are for Joint Force Harrier; and if he will make a statement. [40173]

Mr. Ingram: I have agreed an investment plan to take forward Joint Force Harrier (JFH) into the era of Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA) and Future Carriers.

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The Strategic Defence Review (SDR) included a commitment to establish JFH, building on the success of Royal Navy and RAF Harrier aircraft operations in joint carrier air groups. This was a radical initiative to form a truly joint, flexible and deployable force optimised for the demands of the new strategic environment. JFH currently operates two aircraft types––Sea Harrier FA2, an air defence aircraft flown by RN personnel, and Harrier GR7, a ground attack/reconnaissance aircraft flown by RAF personnel. The plan has been for both the Sea Harrier FA2 and Harrier GR7 to be replaced by a common aircraft type. This is currently designated the FJCA with an In Service Date of 2012.

Work has been taking place on a migration plan to take forward JFH into the era of the FJCA and the future aircraft carrier. We have concluded that Joint Force Harrier should migrate to an all Harrier GR force, maximising investment in one aircraft type. It is planned to upgrade the GR7 to GR9 standard to ensure a credible expeditionary offensive capability until the aircraft leaves service. To achieve this, aircraft systems will be enhanced to extend their lives and give the Harrier the capability to operate with smart weapons.

Given the Harrier GR9's ability in future to employ smart weapons world-wide by day and night from land and sea and the increased emphasis on carrier based offensive air-power in the SDR and confirmed by the emerging conclusions of our post-11 September work, the Sea Harrier FA2 will be withdrawn earlier than planned, by 2006. The Sea Harrier entered service in 1979, and will start to become obsolescent as this decade progresses.

As a consequence of its earlier withdrawal from service, the planned relocation of Sea Harrier FA2 aircraft from RNAS Yeovilton to RAF Cottesmore and RAF Wittering in 2003 will not now proceed. The relocation of RN personnel will go ahead but slightly later than currently planned, over the period 2004 to 2006. By 1 April 2007, JFH will have migrated to an all Harrier GR9 force by roughly equal numbers of RN and RAF personnel. These proposals will be subject to consultation with the Trade Unions in the normal way.

This plan will significantly enhance the offensive strike capability of our aircraft carriers pending introduction to service of the FJCA.

Nimrod MRA4

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has changed his procurement plans for the Nimrod MRA4. [40174]

Dr. Moonie: The Nimrod MRA4 will replace the Nimrod MR2 as the RAF's new maritime patrol aircraft Recent work on future maritime reconnaissance capabilities has shown that the operational tasks of the Nimrod MRA4 aircraft can be carried out with a smaller fleet than originally envisaged. This will allow us to reduce the number of aircraft on order from 21 to 18. This revised approach will allow the RAF to meet all the tasks for which the aircraft is being procured while delivering better value for money.

This judgment reflects a number of factors. The submarine threat, while still prevalent worldwide, has not developed as expected when the production contract

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was signed in 1996. Moreover, the Nimrod MRA4 will also offer a markedly greater capability compared to the MR2 it succeeds, through improved aircraft and sensor performance. Finally, discussions with BAE Systems, the prime contractor, have identified potential in-service support options to maximise aircraft availability for operational tasking.

The Defence Procurement Agency is working with BAE Systems on an incremental approach to delivery for Nimrod MRA4. This includes the acceptance of aircraft in two steps. An initial capability will be provided by the time of first contracted aircraft delivery in August 2004 with the full specification being met by the time of the seventh aircraft delivery and entry into service which is contracted for March 2005. The reduced order will affect only the last three aircraft of the previously planned production run.

In accordance with the partnership principle of Smart Acquisition, agreement has been reached with BAE. Systems to maximise the financial benefits to the Ministry of Defence of this reduced order while incentivising the company appropriately. The reduction in procurement costs will be agreed in detail with the company. On the basis of current assumptions, the smaller fleet is expected to reduce support costs alone by some 360 million.

AWE

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British universities have research contracts with AWE; and if he will list them. [32714]

Dr. Moonie: AWE plc currently have research contracts with a total of 24 British universities. Confidentiality clauses in these contracts make it necessary for AWE to seek confirmation from each university that they are willing to have their names released. 21 of the universities have so consented and are listed below:






















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Publications

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in respect of the publications issued by the Central Corporate Communications Division in each of the last four years, what was (a) the circulation, (b) the cost and (c) the purpose of each. [34434]

Dr. Lewis Moonie: The information requested for the main publications produced by our central corporate communication division, and its predecessors, where known, is shown in the following tables.

Financial year 1998–99

Publication Cost ()1Circulation (numbers)2 Purpose
Strategic Defence Review71,880110,000Published outcome of the Strategic Defence Review
Defence Booklets55,988122,000Information booklets on a variety of defence subjects
Annual Report of Defence Activity 1997–9819,05175,000Reports defence activity
XSanctuary"24,19424,000Annual publication describing MoD conservation activity
Defence Factsheets11,991120,000 (total)A series of folded A4-leaflets giving general information on a specific defence issue
Ministry of Defence Performance Report 1997–984,2273510Reports on MoD performance in the previous year
XFocus"167,791455,000 (per month)Monthly in-house newspaper, for MoD staff

Financial year 1999–2000

Publication Cost ()1Circulation (numbers)2 Purpose
Defence White Paper 199926,05215,000To inform Parliament and the public of defence activity and policies
Defence Annual Report and Mission Booklets17,51470,000Describe defence mission, and reports defence activity
Defence Booklets25,37315,000
(total)Information booklets on a variety of defence subjects
Defence Factsheets47,868436,700
(total)A series of folded A4-leaflets giving general information on a specific defence issue
Factsheets (in Welsh language)8,43928,000
(total)As above, in Welsh language
Large text/braille/audio material24,1552,100 large
print
booklets
400 audio
cassettes
1,200 braille
booklets
(totals)Provision of defence information to people who are visually impaired
XSanctuary"21,92024,000Annual publication describing MoD conservation activity
XFocus"174,329455,000
(per month)Monthly in-house newspaper, for MoD staff
Ministry of Defence Performance Report 1998–997,1045600Reports on MoD performance in the previous year

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Financial year 2000–01

PublicationCost ()1Circulation (numbers)2Purpose
Defence Factsheets32,832390,500 (total)A series of folded A4-leaflets giving general information on a specific defence issue
Factsheets (in Welsh language)10,48032,000As above, in Welsh language
Defence Booklets38,98335,900Information booklets on a variety of defence subjects
Kosovo Lessons from the Crisis2,50035,000Command paper on Kosovo campaign
Ministry of Defence Performance Report 1999–20006,803.403800Reports on MoD performance in the previous year
XFocus"161,950455,000 (per month)Monthly in-house newspaper, for MoD staff
XSanctuary"19,09224,000Annual publication describing MoD conservation activity

Financial year 2001–025

Publication Cost ()1Circulation (numbers)2 Purpose
XDefence Matters"15,6268,000Colour brochure explaining range of defence activities
Defence booklets21,72310,500
(total)Information booklets on a variety of defence subjects
Defence Factsheets32,170153,700
(total)A series of folded A4-leaflets giving general information on a specific defence issue
XBlue Book"5,5882,100Describes organisation and management of defence in the UK
XSanctuary"26,20024,000Annual publication describing MoD conservation activity
XFocus"105,269455,000
(per month)Monthly in-house newspaper, for MoD staff
Ministry of Defence Performance Report 2000–0112,6103650Report to Parliament of MoD performance in the previous year
SDR New Chapter Public Discussion paper, & leaflet21,800 (estimated)10.500 Discussion papers
139,000 leaflets
Discussion paper on the New Chapter on terrorism.

Notes:

1 Cost figures consist of printing and, where appropriate, an element of design costs and/or distribution.

2 Exact circulation numbers are difficult to obtain without incurring disproportionate costs. Figures shown (other than for XCommand" publications) are numbers printed.

3 Costs shown for XCommand" publications are only for the copies required by the MoD, and represent a discount on the normal Stationery Office price.

4 Costs shown for XFocus" do not include the substantial income generated from advertising revenue.

5 Figures for the 2001–02 Financial Year show spend as at 15 February 2002.


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