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Joint Strike Fighter

Mr. Alan Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost is of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. [51536]

Mr. Hoon: The Joint Strike Fighter has been identified as having the best potential to meet our Future Joint Combat Aircraft requirement. The United Kingdom's procurement costs are currently estimated to be up to £10 billion, depending on the number of aircraft required and the variant selected. Subsequent costs will be determined by the through life support strategy that we decide to adopt.

Defence Employment (North-East)

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the numbers employed in the defence and defence-related industries in the north-east. [51784R]

Dr. Moonie: The latest available figures (1998–99) for the number of United Kingdom jobs estimated to be directly dependent on Ministry of Defence equipment expenditure is 81,000. Of these, approximately 3,000 were employed on MOD equipment contracts in the north-east. The Defence Analytical Services Agency does not provide estimates for regional employment derived from MOD non-equipment expenditure or exports.

We are currently reviewing our methodology on the estimation of employment figures dependent on UK defence expenditure and exports. On this issue, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 27 November 2001, Official Report, column 766W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Ann McKechin).

Service Accommodation

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the last Stock Condition Survey was conducted of (a) single living accommodation and (b) service family accommodation; what conclusions were drawn as to the work required to meet the target of upgrading his Department's housing by 2003; if he will put the latest copy in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [52103]

Dr. Moonie: As part of the Ministry of Defence's commitment to improving single living accommodation a rolling condition revalidation programme commenced in April 2001 and the current status is:

ArmyOngoing, substantially complete
Central TLBComplete

So far as service family accommodation in mainland UK is concerned, a stock condition survey was commissioned by the Defence Housing Executive (DHE) in mid-1997 and completed in early 1998. The task was complex, involving 650 data entries per property and full survey of 90 per cent. of the total stock of some 64,000 properties. Against an agreed standard for condition very few properties met the highest standard. DHE had already

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embarked on a programme to refurbish all of the properties then forecast as required for the long term but, on the basis of the information contained in the survey and the amount of work required, the target date was revised from 2003 to November 2005.The survey report is now outdated, in that some 12,000 properties have since been disposed of, and significant new build and upgrade projects carried out. It would therefore be inappropriate to place a copy in the Library of the House. However, the latest information is as follows:

Number of properties
Standard 120,699
Standard 226,007
Standard 34,877
Standard 4349

C3 Capabilities

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what improvements have been made to the armed forces' C3 capabilities since July 1998; and if he will make a statement. [51491]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 April 2002]: The introduction into service of a range of programmes has led to significant improvements to the armed forces' Command, Control and Communications (C3) capability since July 1998. Examples include the upgrade and expansion of our Joint Force Maritime and Air Operational Command Systems, and upgrades to the Skynet 4 satellite system. We have also introduced specific additional communications capabilities to improve interoperability with allies to ensure maximum operational flexibility for our deployed forces in the particular demands of the Afghanistan environment. Furthermore, the Personal Role Radio was released into service in January 2002, two months earlier than scheduled, and is currently deployed with troops in Afghanistan.

These enhancements are backed by a significant programme of investment in our future capability that, over the next few years, includes the introduction of Bowman, Skynet 5, and Falcon.

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Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what improvements have been made to the armed forces' ISTAR capabilities since July 1998; and if he will make a statement. [51490]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 April 2002]: The armed forces have made significant improvements to their ISTAR capabilities since 1998, introducing into service a variety of assets to improve surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities. Examples include the introduction into service of the PHOENIX unmanned aerial vehicle in 1999, improvements to our EW capability for land and maritime forces, and improved imaging capabilities for the RAF. In addition, recent operations have led to the introduction of specific ISTAR capabilities in support of our deployed forces, including mobile weapon locating radars, improvements in our intelligence distribution networks and an increase in the provision of tactical level surveillance devices.

ISTAR remains a priority area for future investment. Among our programmes due into service over the next few years are: ASTOR, delivering significant improvements to our airborne surveillance capabilities; and the WATCHKEEPER unmanned aerial vehicle project that will greatly enhance our battlefield surveillance capabilities. As well as primarily ISTAR assets, the planned introduction of platforms with integral ISTAR systems, such as the Attack Helicopter, will further enhance our capabilities in this area.

Operation Antler

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) MOD police officers, (b) Royal Navy regulators, (c) Royal Military Police, (d) Royal Air Force Police and (e) other MOD personnel are working with Wiltshire constabulary on Operation Antler; what has been the cost in each year in each case; and if he will make a statement. [52411]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 April 2002]: The following table shows the numbers and costs (salary, travel and subsistence and other support costs) of MOD staff working with the Wiltshire constabulary on Operation Antler, since its commencement in August 1999:

1999–2000 2000–01 2001–02
Numbers of staff£Numbers of staff£Numbers of staff£
MOD police officers276,097287,304(1)1(2)83,529
RN regulators001(3)8,5301(3)5,000
Royal Military Police00233,597244,744
Royal Air Force Police00363,880(4)153,978

(1) With effect from January 2002 the number of MDP officers on secondment to Wiltshire constabulary reduced from two to one.

(2) Figures include support costs up to November 2001 only.

(3) Costs approximated as officer only undertook part-time duties in respect of Operation Antler.

(4) With effect from November 2001 the number of RAF officers on secondment to Wiltshire constabulary reduced from two to one.

In addition, staff in MOD Headquarters and at Porton Down have co-operated fully with the police in pursuit of their inquiries.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many DSTL staff at Porton Down have assisted Wiltshire Constabulary with Operation Antler; what (a) accommodation and (b) other facilities have been made available in each year since the operation began; and what the cost was to the Defence budget. [52406]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 April 2002]: During the last two and a half years, 22 members of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) staff have

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assisted the Wiltshire police with the Operation Antler inquiry. Members of the inquiry team have been provided with areas in which to work and review documentation. Additional support facilities have also been provided to copy documents and review films.

The cost of Dstl support to Operation Antler has not been gathered separately. However, the total cost of Dstl effort in addressing issues arising from the Porton Down Volunteer Scheme, including those relating to Operation Antler, for the financial year 2001–02 was approximately £485,000.

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