def070511 - no.49

Session 2006-07, 11 May 2007

Publication of Special Report


GOVERNMENT ADMITS DELAYS IN DELIVERING ARMY’S NEW ARMOURED VEHICLES

The House of Commons Defence Committee today publishes the Government’s Response to the Committee’s report on The Army’s requirement for armoured vehicles: the FRES programme (Ninth Special Report of Session 2006-07, The Army’s requirement for armoured vehicles: the FRES programme: Government Response to the Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2006-07, HC 159).

The Committee’s report noted that in 2003, more than six years after the MoD had identified its requirement for a fleet of medium-weight, rapidly deployable, armoured vehicles, the MoD’s FRES (Future Rapid Effect System) programme remained little more than a concept. The Government Response acknowledges that “the FRES Concept Phase was too long” but states that since the launch of the initial assessment phase in April 2004, progress on FRES has been good.

The Committee’s report noted that the need for greater armoured protection, demonstrated on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, had led to the dropping of the requirement that FRES should be transportable by the Hercules C130-J, and that it remained to be seen whether transportability by A400M was achievable. The Government Response confirms that transportability by A400M is a recognised risk to the programme but states that it is “being carefully managed”.

The Committee acknowledged the need for Ministers to have bargaining power with industry in relation to the FRES programme but argued that it was a legitimate interest in knowing the planning assumptions for the delivery of equipment. The Government Response states that the premature release of project timescales and cost information “can lead to pressure to conclude projects within unrealistic deadlines”.

The Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, Chairman of the Defence Committee, says “Operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has underlined the urgent need for the FRES programme to deliver the Army with an easily deployable, medium-weight, armoured vehicle.  After a slow start, the MoD says that progress is now being made and it expects to announce the outcome of the vehicle-proving trials in November 2007. However major challenges remain: the Defence Committee will take further evidence on the FRES programme in the Autumn of 2007.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Mr David S Borrow MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Linda Gilroy MP, Mr David Hamilton MP, Mr Mike Hancock MP, Mr Dai Havard MP, Mr Adam Holloway MP, Mr Bernard Jenkin MP, Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Robert Key MP, Willie Rennie MP, John Smith MP

2. The Committee’s report is available at www.parliament.uk/defcom

3. News Release: No. 49

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