def070705 - no. 60

Session 2006-07

Publication of Report and Chairman's comments


Publication of Report and Chairman's comments

UK'S MILITARY AIR TRANSPORT NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED URGENTLY, WARNS DEFENCE COMMITTEE

"We are very concerned that a high proportion of the current transport and tanker aircraft are not available for immediate deployment to undertake the required tasks" says the House of Commons Defence Committee in a report published today (Eleventh Report of Session 2006-07, Strategic Lift, HC 462).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) needs the capability - known as Strategic Lift - to transport personnel, equipment and stores from the UK to operational theatres across the globe. The Committee says that the MoD has made good progress in improving its strategic sea-lift, but the progress in improving its strategic air-lift has been less good.

The acquisition of C-17 large transport aircraft has improved the MoD's strategic air-lift, but the Committee says that the MoD needs to consider acquiring additional C-17 aircraft given the current operational tempo. The MoD plans to acquire 25 A400M transport aircraft, but the programme has experienced a 15 month delay which has required the lives of ageing transport aircraft to be extended. The MoD also plans to acquire new tanker aircraft which can transport Service personnel to operational theatres, but these aircraft will not be in service until 2011 at the earliest requiring the old tanker aircraft to be kept in service.

A key role of the A400M aircraft will be to transport the Army's future medium-weight armoured vehicles (FRES). The weight of FRES is increasing during development: the Committee says this must be closely monitored to avoid the situation where the UK has a new generation of armoured fighting vehicles which cannot be deployed rapidly overseas.

Commenting on the report, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said:

"The UK needs to be able to transport troops, equipment and stores to trouble spots around the globe quickly. New transport aircraft, and tanker aircraft which can also carry Service personnel, are expected to enter service early in the next decade, but as is often the case with the MoD, it is "jam tomorrow, but never jam today". The MoD must give priority to support equipment, such as transport and tanker aircraft, which are vital for both launching and sustaining military operations. It is not enough to give our troops the best training and the best equipment, if we cannot transport them to where they are needed and support them once deployed".

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. News Release: No. 60

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