AIR MARSHALL SIR JOCK STIRRUP GIVES EVEIDENCE AT SELECT COMMITTEE – COVERS WATCHKEEPER, BOWMAN, SEA HARRIER AND EUROFIGHTER
2 May 02. At the Defence Select Committee yesterday DCDS EC, Air Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup, made the following points:
The EC area has been undergoing a review, led by US academic, Prof. Pascale. His report is not yet complete but expected to recommend reinforcing the DECs by providing a capability to view the bigger picture. It was about managing the interfaces between DECS and between individual programmes.
Sir Jock was asked whether, on taking up his appointment, he had found any areas where “strategic decisions” were required. He replied that there were two priority areas:
1) Establishing network-centric capability
DCDS EC was asked whether he thought there was a need for a “Homeland Security” Cell within his organisation. DCDS EC said he did not think so at the moment but the issue was kept under continuous review.
DCDS EC was asked whether too much attention was paid to costs and deadlines and not enough to customer value. Sir Jock said that he was alive to the trade-offs. If he could get 80% of the capability for half the cost, then he would certainly look at it. Much depended on how one defined user value and he thought the system of Key User Requirements (KURs) captured this well.
Sea Harrier withdrawal was caused the aircraft “becoming unviable” beyond 2006 and the prohibitive cost of upgrade. The aircraft requires a new engine and latest generation Pegasus engines will not fit into the SHAR fuselage. A member of the Committee said he had been told by John Farley, ex-SHAR test pilot, that suitable engines are available in the US!
Asked if the fleet would be left unprotected between the withdrawal of the SHAR and the arrival of JSF, Sir Jock said that the Type 45, with its 400km Sampson radar and PAMS missiles would provide cover and we were likely to be operating with allies. In the interim, the Type 42s would be upgraded.
Committee members were very concerned about the SHAR withdrawal and asked if savings could not be made in other areas e.g. rationalisation of the Jaguar, Harrier, Tornado F3/GR1/GR4 fleet. Sir Jock said this was being examined at the moment. The Committee Chairman, Rt. Hon. Bruce George MP, said that the MOD had not yet made a convincing case on the SHAR issue and he asked DCDS EC to provide the Committee with more information on the technical issues in writing.
Sir Jock was asked about the maturity of the Type 45 air defence system on entry to service. Sir Jock said that the system would be maturing. It would be capable of meeting perceived threats extant at that time but would been further development or meet future threats.
On JSF, Sir Jock said a decision on which variant to go for was expected mid 2002 and on the carrier, early 2003.
Asked why we needed “£600 million in UK specific requirements”, Sir Jock said this was to accommodate UK-specific weapons, operating practices and health and safety requirements.
On Bowman, Sir Jock was asked whether the ISD of 2004 looked reasonable. To the amusement of the Committee, he agreed it was “reasonable”.
On Watchkeeper, DCDS EC was asked why the UK was undertaking this programme when the US had moved on to next generation systems like Predator. Sir Jock said that Watchkeeper was a capability not a specific system. It was a requirement and the solution was not yet clear. He was then asked if we could take a proven system off the shelf and he said “certainly – whatever is the most cost-effective”. The Chairman then said “of course, the Americans achieved a double-whammy in Afghanistan by putting bombs on drones” to which DCDS EC responded “Absolutely”.
DCDS EC was asked, given the Eurofighter, JSF and FOAC programmes, how his Dept went about minimising the proliferation of aircr