def070215 - No. 25

Session 2006-07, 15 February 2007

Announcement of new inquiry

Announcement of new inquiry


The UK’s ability to launch and sustain military operations overseas is to be scrutinised in a new inquiry by the House of Commons Defence Committee into “Strategic Lift”.

The 1998 Strategic Defence Review highlighted the urgent need for the UK to improve its Strategic Lift - its ability to transport people, equipment and stores from the UK to operational theatres across the globe, by sea, land and air.

The Defence Committee’s inquiry will examine the progress made since the Strategic Defence Review in improving its Strategic Lift. The MoD has sought to improve this capability through a Public Finance Initiative (PFI) deal for six Roll-on Roll-off ferries, the purchase of five C-17 large transport aircraft from the US and the future procurement of 25 new A400M aircraft. But experience in Iraq and Afghanistan suggests that problems remain, particularly with airlift.

The Committee will examine the adequacy of the MoD’s current Strategic Lift and whether the proposals in the Strategic Defence Review need to be revisited. The inquiry will also examine the MoD’s use of commercial organisations to provide Strategic Lift.

Chairman of the Defence Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, says “If the UK wants to be able to deploy forces across the globe, it is vital that we have access to sufficient ships and aircraft to deliver our troops and their equipment to trouble spots quickly, equipped to protect and resupply themselves. We want to ensure that the Government is giving enough priority to this essential requirement.”

The Committee will be looking closely at the progress of the A400M military transport aircraft programme - a European collaborative programme involving seven nations. The forecast in-service date for the A400M, which will replace the UK’s remaining Hercules C-130K fleet, has slipped to March 2011. The Committee will examine how the MoD is managing the capability gap caused by this slippage; and will also look at the A400M’s ability to transport future platforms such as the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) vehicles. 

The Committee would welcome written evidence on these matters. This should be sent to the Clerk of the Defence Committee by Thursday 29 March 2007.

The Committee plans to take oral evidence in April.  Details will be announced later.


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. 25


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