MORE DEFENCE CUTS IN THE WIND – FRES RETREATS TO 2004?
07 Nov 03. Yesterday Lord Bach, U.K. Minister for Defence Procurement, unveiled the British Army’s new Alvis Vickers FCLV 4-wheel drive, all terrain vehicle at Wellington Barracks.
FCLV will be used throughout the Army in a large number of utility and scouting roles including close reconnaissance, platoon level command and general support peace keeping. The £140m contract for 401 vehicles, which is less than the original contract anticipated, will replace a number of vehicle types in the British Army inventory. There are options for a further 400 vehicles. The British Army is the launch customer for this vehicle which is of Italian design and build, the Italian Army is slated to receive 200 vehicles. Mike Pope of Alvis Vickers told BATTLESPACE that Alvis Vickers will import the chassis and drivelines from Iveco and build the vehicles in the UK.
BATTLESPACE Editors asked Pope what developments have occurred over the company’s failed bid to ‘sole source’ the UK’s £6bn FRES requirement. “We don’t expect an answer on FRES until early 2004”, Pope said, “We also expect that a leading system house will be employed by the MoD to conduct a feasibility study prior to the placing of any development contracts, this should delay any system development until the late summer of 2004 at the earliest.” Asked why the ‘sole source’ bid by Alvis Vickers and BAE had failed, Pope said, “For a £6bn requirement the Treasury has to be sure that it is getting value for money, which is always difficult on a sole source contract, thus competition will be the way forward.” The Editor asked whether he would comment on a FCS/FRES Government-to Government agreement with the USA. He said that he expected some form of U.S. involvement in FRES technology but the U.K. must sort out the current impasse over ITAR technology transfer agreements, currently dogging the U.K.’s JSF involvement. (See INTEROPERABILITY KEY TO FCS/FRES DEVELOPMENT, BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.5 ISSUE 40, October 10th 2003)
During the launch there were discussions amongst journalists with regard to the rumours of ‘two large project cuts’ (one already placed) to make up the £1bn budget shortfall. Since then BATTLESPACE has found out that on Monday’s IAB meeting, FRES, FSTA and DII would be discussed, which leaves the possibility of GBAD, Meteor or Soothsayer being possible targets?
The question of cuts in the Typhoon programme will not go away with one M.P. requesting an adjournment debate on the subject (See PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS FROM PS2, below).
Miss McIntosh : Can the Minister confirm to the House that he will be able to sign off tranche 2 of the Typhoon programme by the December deadline, or is he going to tell us that the Typhoon will not enter into service at the prescribed time or to the prescribed budget? How does the right hon. Gentleman respond to newspaper reports that he is being asked to make a 20 per cent. cut in the budget?
Mr. Ingram: I thought that it was the Conservatives who were announcing 20 per cent. cuts across their programme. I also thought that their potential new leader-they may have changed again; I do not know whether they have kept this one-was indicating that he wishes to make massive cuts in programmes.
The United Kingdom is party to international arrangements under which we are set to order a total of 232 Typhoons. Of those, 55 aircraft are already on order, and we are working towards an order for the second tranche of 89. The third and final order is not due to be placed before 2007, and we shall keep our requirements under continual review. We are working towards meeting those deadlines.
Miss McIntosh: Owing to the nature of that entirely inadequate response, I wish to give notice that I intend to apply for an Adjournment debate on the subject.