British Minister Answers (Some) Questions About SDSR
(Source: compiled by Defense-Aerospace.com; posted Dec 09, 2015)
PARIS --- While the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) unveiled by the British Government on Nov. 23 prompted more questions than it answered, additional information the government’s intentions on some of the major programs has been provided in answers to Members of Parliament.

We have compiled written answers provided by Defence Procurement Minister Phillip Dunne in the past two weeks by subject; they paint a surprising picture of a government which published a long-term document setting out its intentions in the field of defense without having most of the necessary information.

This is shown by the number of practical decisions which, in fact, have been kicked into the future: this concerns many of the most ambitious and strategically important program.

Philip Dunne’s answers are available on the House of Commons website. We have deleted the many repetitive answers, and edited the answers for ease of reading.

We also have flagged in bold typeface passages of particular note.


HMS Ocean

When HMS Ocean entered service in 1998 she had a specified service life, based on her build specification, of 20 years.

The decision to retire HMS Ocean is consistent with the intent expressed in paragraph 2.A.5 in the SDSR 2010. As part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 the Royal Navy will retain two landing Platform Dock vessels in the fleet.

Nuclear Submarines

We expect the first Successor submarine to enter service in the early 2030s.

Designing and building submarines is one of the largest programmes and one of the most complex activities that the Ministry of Defence and UK Industry has ever undertaken. It is the purpose of a design phase to improve our understanding of costs and timescales, which we have now done. The current estimates reflect what we have learned since the design phase began.

Our latest estimate of the total cost to manufacture the four Successor submarines reflects greater maturity of the design and understanding of the supply chain, amounts to £31 billion; we will also set a contingency of £10 billion. This level of contingency represents about 35% of the costs to completion and is a prudent estimate based on past experience of large, complex projects.

Options for the composition of the new organisation will be developed and assessed for a decision in 2016. The Ministry of Defence will remain in control of the Successor submarine programme.

We have assessed that we can safely manage and maintain the Vanguard boats until the Successor submarines are introduced into service in the early 2030s. The marginal costs associated with maintaining the submarines can be contained within the existing running cost of the deterrent, which is around 6% of the defence budget per year.

Type 26 Frigates

The Type 26 Global Combat Ship, designed to provide an anti-submarine warfare capability, will be a multi-mission warship designed for joint and multinational operations across the full spectrum of warfare, including complex combat operations, counter piracy, humanitarian and disaster relief work.

It will be capable of operating independently for significant periods, or as part of a task group. Its design is inherently flexible, allowing greater choice in operational tasking through the incorporation of modular systems, to allow incremental upgrades to its systems through the life-time of the class.

These include the flexible strike silo (able to host anti-submarine, anti-ship and, if required, land attack strike missiles) and the modular mission bay (able to host unmanned air, surface or sub-surface systems, boats for an embarked force, further command facilities or humanitarian relief stores).

I am withholding further detail as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the Armed Forces.

The cost and schedule of the general purpose frigate programme outlined in the White Paper has yet to be determined. The programme will be scoped during a concept study as part of the programme announced by the Prime Minister on 23 November 2015.

The SDSR endorsed the requirement for eight of the anti-submarine warfare variant of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship to replace the eight Type 23 frigates that currently fulfil this role. The review also concluded that the remainder of the Navy's future frigate requirement would be better met by a new class of lighter, flexible, general purpose frigates than by the five general purpose Type 26 ships previously planned.

This new class of frigate will be procured in greater numbers enabling an increase in the size of the Navy's destroyer and frigate fleet above the 19 ships currently in service. This will further improve the Royal Navy's ability to deliver the full range of defence, warfighting and maritime security tasks well into the middle of the 21st Century.

We intend to maintain a fleet of 19 frigates and destroyers until the 2030s when the introduction of a new class of general purpose frigate will allow this size of the fleet to increase.

The timetable for the general purpose frigate programme, and the number of ships we intend to buy, have yet to be determined and will be shaped by the Shipbuilding Strategy we will publish in 2016.

River-class Offshore Patrol Vehicles

Three River Class Patrol Vessels are already under construction, the first two of which are scheduled to enter service in 2018 and the third in 2019. The contract for two further vessels, and therefore their delivery schedule, has yet to be agreed and will be influenced by the Shipbuilding Strategy to be published in 2016.

As with the three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) currently under construction, the two additional OPVs referred to in the White Paper and SDSR will be built at BAE Systems' (BAES) shipyards on the Clyde. Decisions about the appointment of sub-contractors to the supply chain will be a matter for BAES.

Boeing P-8A Poseidon

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft entered service with the United States Navy in November 2013. Under current plans, we anticipate that it will enter service with the RAF in the UK during financial year 2019-20. Exact dates for entering service and for all nine aircraft to be operational are yet to be agreed.

What estimate he has made of the cost per unit of each Boeing P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft?
We are unable to release this information publicly while commercial negotiations are continuing.

What estimate [has MoD] made of the annual running cost of the proposed fleet of Boeing P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft when they first enter service?
We are unable to release this information publicly while commercial negotiations are continuing.

What military assets does his Department propose to use to undertake maritime patrol functions before the Boeing P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft comes into service?
The 2010 SDSR announced the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 which was 11 years late and nearly £800 million over budget. It acknowledged what would result in a capability gap that would be mitigated by using a combination of other surveillance aircraft, including those from Allies, as well as ships and submarines. SDSR 2015 announced we will buy nine new Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

What criteria [has MoD] used to procure the Boeing P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft fleet?
As with any acquisition programme, the Boeing P-8A - along with a number of other potential platforms - was assessed against the system's ability to meet the Department's Key User Requirements, using a combination of scientific, technical and operational analysis, as well as industry's ability to deliver the programme in a timely and cost-effective manner, to meet the capability need within budget.

What estimate [has MoD] made of the number of UK-based jobs in each region likely to be sustained by his Department's decision to procure the Boeing P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft fleet?
The UK is in negotiations with Boeing on the route to contract for P-8, which will determine how the programme will affect UK-based jobs. It is expected the P-8 will have a significant impact on the UK economy: P-8 is based on the Boeing 737, the supply chain for which already includes UK industry, and the UK also manufactures subsystems of the P-8.

Purchase of the aircraft will also create opportunities for UK industry to bid for training and support contracts, and basing of this fleet at RAF Lossiemouth will bring significant economic benefits to Scotland. Boeing estimates that in total, its entire P-8 programme could generate over US$1 billion to the UK supply chain and economy.

When [did) the first Boeing P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft come into full service; and by what date he plans for all nine to be operational?
The P-8A uses the 'boom and receptacle' method of in-flight refuelling. As such, the P-8A will not be able to refuel from RAF Voyager aircraft, which use a different configuration for air-to-air refuelling.

Other subjects

What are the 170 investments to sustain and enhance defence capabilities?
The SDSR 2015 set out the range of capabilities that, taken together, will sustain and enhance our ability to fulfil Defence's contribution to UK National Security.

What timetable [has MoD] set for the introduction of the Rapid Strike brigade as set out in the 2015 SDSR?
The two Strike Brigades will provide a rapidly deployable agile force, with enhanced range, speed, protection and firepower, significantly enhancing the UK's ability to respond to international crises.

As previously announced on 3 September 2014 by My right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary (Michael Fallon) (Official Report, column 19WS) a contract has been awarded to deliver 589 Ajax vehicles. Detailed allocation plans have yet to be finalised. Fielding of Strike Brigades will start from 2018, delivering an initial operating capability in 2021 and moving towards Full Operating Capability from 2025.

When [does MoD] plan for the Apache helicopter upgrade to take place?
The Apache Capability Sustainment Programme is currently in the Assessment Phase and the investment decision is anticipated in summer 2016 to enable orderly upgrade of our existing fleet as they reach their out-of-service date.

How much [will MoD] plan to spend on new precision weapons systems in each year from 2015 to 2020?
Over the next five years, the Department plans to spend around £6.5 billion on the procurement, support and testing of sophisticated weapons systems.

When [does MoD] plan to retire the Sentinel aircraft from service?
Under plans announced in the SDSR 2015, Sentinel will be extended in service into the next decade.

What estimate [has MoD] made of (a) running and (b) maintenance costs for Sentinel aircraft in each of the next five years?
Detailed cost estimates are currently being finalised.

Air Transport Fleet

What estimate [has MoD} made of his Department's running costs for the Command Support Air Transport fleet in each year from 2015 to 2020?
It is estimated that the running costs for the Command Support Air Transport Fleet would be some £19 million - £20 million per annum, in each year from 2015-2020.

How much [has MoD] spent on running costs for the Command Support Air Transport fleet in each year since 2010?
The Air Command running costs, in £millions and by financial year, for the Command Support Air Transport fleet based at RAF Northolt are as follows:
*2010-11: 14.8
*2011-12: 15.9
*2012-13: 18.8
*2013-14: 19.1
*2014-15: 18.0

Costs for the current financial year 2015-16, have not yet been finalised.

What estimate [has MoD] made of the cost of recapitalising the Command Support Air Transport fleet?
A full assessment phase will be undertaken to ensure that any recapitalisation decisions provide the most efficient way of delivering capability and offer best value for money.

Scout Armored Vehicles

How many new Scout land vehicles [will] each of the new Strike Brigades be equipped with?
The two Strike Brigades will provide a rapidly deployable agile force, with enhanced range, speed, protection and firepower, significantly enhancing the UK's ability to respond to international crises.

As previously announced on 3 September 2014 by My right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary (Michael Fallon) (Official Report, column 19WS) a contract has been awarded to deliver 589 Ajax vehicles. Detailed allocation plans have yet to be finalised. Fielding of Strike Brigades will start from 2018, delivering an initial operating capability in 2021 and moving towards Full Operating Capability from 2025.

Watchkeeper UAV

On what date Watchkeeper is expected to be at full operating capability?
Watchkeeper is expected to achieve full operating capability in the second quarter of 2017.

The original cost estimate for the development and delivery of Watchkeeper to full operating capability, at the time of Main Gate approval in 2005, was £847 million.

With regards to the cost of each Watchkeeper, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28 October 2014 to question 211342 to the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson).

What [was MoD’s] original estimate was for the development and delivery of Watchkeeper to full operating capability?
The original cost estimate for the development and delivery of Watchkeeper to full operating capability, at the time of Main Gate approval in 2005, was £847 million.

>What estimate [has MoD] made of the cost to the public purse of the development of Watchkeeper?
Development costs are not separately identified as they are included within the main Demonstration, Manufacturing and Initial Support contract with Thales UK.

The current total financial approval for development and delivery of Watchkeeper to Full Operating Capability is £927 million.

Air-Launched Weapons

By when [does MoD] plan for Storm Shadow and Brimstone missile systems to be integrated with Typhoon aircraft?
The SDSR included a commitment to invest further in Typhoon's capabilities, including ground attack.

Under current plans, the in-service dates on Typhoon will be August 2018 for Storm Shadow and December 2018 for Brimstone.

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