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11 Jan 05. As BATTLESPACE UPDATE goes to press, we understand that further cuts are envisaged fore the UK Defence budget with Watchkeeper, FRES and Falcon being added to the CVF and Typhoon concerns.

A meeting last week with regard to Watchkeeper we understand discussed several options. These included cancellation, delayreduce scope and acquire an interim solution, continue. Early indications seem to suggest an inevitable delay in the contract. But, if the RAF has their way, perhaps more leasing of such UAVs as Predator may become the norm until a new tactical UAV is found to replace the Hermes 180 which was deemed to be too immature.

The falcon announcement, due in November is believed to be another sufferer in the constant search for cuts. The contract being bid by BAE and Selenia had reached the final hurdle of the IAB. BATTLESPACE now understands that there may be a delay of at least two years. One source suggests that the MoD may proceed with the first tranche of the requirement, that is the £160m demonstration phase for the ARRC and delay full implementation whilst keeping Ptarmigan in service by incremental upgrades.

During his grilling by the Select Committee this week, Geoff Hoon was forced to admit that FRES will almost certainly not be in service by the 2010 timeframe which puts question marks over the Army’s continued ability to filed the Saxon and CVR(T) vehicles in particular. Renewed talk of an interim Stryker buy or lease to fill this gap continues but the customer needs to be convinced that this is the best vehicle.

The Times in particular was full of critical articles with regard to the Government’s PFI policies before Christmas, is this why we have little about the Tanker Project being signed?

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