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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

House of Commons Written Answers 19 December 2013

Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilians have completed the condensed Initial Officer Training course to fly and work on the Voyager aircraft fleet. [177250]

Mr Francois: Since commencement of the Voyager PF1 contract, a total of two civilians employed by AirTanker Services have completed the condensed initial officer training course to fly and work on the Voyager aircraft fleet. Of the other current Voyager sponsored reservists, three did a bespoke training course out of sync with the course schedule. Six were granted a waiver from having to undertake the initial officer training course due to previous RAF experience and the remaining three are yet to do the course.

RAF Machrihanish

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when it was agreed to allow the stationing of nuclear weapons from the US at RAF Machrihanish; who approved the deployment; and how many weapons and what type were involved; [180878]
(2) for how long nuclear weapons from the US were stationed at RAF Machrihanish; what the methods of transportation were to and from the base; what arrangements were in place for storage; and whether RAF aircraft were authorised to deliver the weapons in a nuclear strike. [180879]

Mr Francois: Since the early 1950s the US has had the ability to base their nuclear weapons in the UK. However we do not comment on deployment policy. This policy is applied across NATO. RAF Machrihanish was returned to the Ministry of Defence in June 1995.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what US air force aircraft used RAF Machrihanish in the last five years before the base closed. [180880]

Mr Francois: The Ministry of Defence no longer holds information on the type of US Air Force aircraft that used RAF Machrihanish in the period 1990-95.

RAF Waddington

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to promote the interoperability of capabilities and systems at RAF Waddington with the UK’s NATO allies in 2013. [R] [180550]

Mr Francois: RAF systems based at RAF Waddington make a major national contribution to interoperability with NATO Allies. The RAF’s E-3D Sentry is the UK’s contribution to the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force. Sentinel, Shadow and Reaper, the RAF’s remotely piloted aircraft system, all contributed to NATO’s ISAF intelligence, target acquisition and surveillance operations in Afghanistan during 2013.

Unmanned Air and Marine Vehicles

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2013, Official Report, column 849W, on unmanned aerial and marine vehicles, what assessment he has made of the potential use of unmanned vehicles for maritime reconnaissance by the Air ISTAR Optimisation Study. [178925]

Mr Francois: The initial findings of the Air ISTAR Optimisation Study (AIOS) indicate that, in the short to medium timescale (now to 2025), unmanned air systems (UAS) could provide a capability covering unit and force protection—but not wide area surveillance—above water. Unmanned wide area surveillance for anti- submarine warfare (ASW) would be more challenging before 2035. Further work is needed to understand: the specific capabilities that could be delivered and how they could be integrated, air worthiness certification and the affordability of such systems. The next phase of the AIOS will consider the role of UAS in order to inform decisions leading up to and part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review planned in 2015.

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2013, Official Report, column 198W, on unmanned air vehicles, whether he will place in the Library copies of the factual reports, studies and trials on which the legal review is based. [R] [1805

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