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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

28 Feb 14. The Defence Committee will publish a report on Future Army 2020 on Thursday 6 March 2014 at 00.01 am. Embargoed copies of the report will be sent to you on Wednesday 5 March from 9.00 am. The Report will be on the Committee’s website, www.parliament.uk/defcom from 0900 am on Thursday 6 March and copies may be purchased from The Houses of Parliament Shop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, London, SW1A 2JX).
The Defence Committee has obtained the agreement of the Backbench Business Committee to launch its report in the House of Commons on Thursday 6 March when Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, the Chair of the Committee, will make a short statement about the report and respond to questions. This will be after Business Questions and any Ministerial Statements, at around 11.30 am.

House of Commons Written Answers 27 February 2014

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the Watchkeeper Programme; when he expects the system to enter full service; and if he will make a statement. [188941]

Mr Francois: Further to the answer I gave on 22 October 2013, Official Report, column 102W, to the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson), significant recent progress has been made on the Watchkeeper Programme to satisfy the regulatory authorities that the system will be safe to fly. This first of type Unmanned Air System should commence flying from Boscombe Down in Wiltshire in early March 2014. An initial Release to Service is expected to be authorised by the Chief of the General Staff to allow the first military flights by the Army from Boscombe Down from early April 2014.

Warships

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what surface combat ships are currently (a) in build and (b) on order. [188940]

Mr Francois: The Type 26 Global Combat Ship (T26 GCS) is expected to become the future surface combat vessel for the Royal Navy. The T26 GCS programme is currently in its assessment phase, and orders will be placed after the Ministry of Defence has taken the main investment decision later in 2014. In terms of the wider warship building, the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are currently in build, and orders are planned to be placed for three offshore patrol vessels, subject to the successful conclusion of the commercial discussions with BAE Systems.

House of Commons Written Answers 24 February 2014

Aircraft Carriers

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ports in the UK the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier simulator successfully navigated and docked at. [188386]

Mr Dunne: Computer modelling has been undertaken for the navigation and docking of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers at its base port of Portsmouth and at Faslane as a contingency. This modelling has been successful. Desktop modelling has also demonstrated that the carriers can successfully enter other UK ports. If there is a need for the ship to dock at further UK ports, modelling will be undertaken if required.

Ballistic Missile Defence

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for Royal Navy assets to take part in NATO European Missile defence. [187989]

Mr Francois: Ballistic Missile Defence capability options including those for the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyer will be considered as part of a future Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Defence Support Group

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will take a decision on the future of the Defence Support Group at Ashchurch and its facilities. [R] [187739]

Mr Dunne: A decision on reproviding facilities for the future support of Defence vehicles is planned for spring 2014.

Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the in-service date for the first tranche of F35 Joint Combat Aircraft will be. [188303]

Mr Dunne: The In Servic

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