Defence written question – answered on 4th July 2012.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence

(1) what assessment he has made of the extent to which the Co-operative Engagement Capability system will contribute to a recognised air picture;

(2) whether the Co-operative Engagement Capability system (a) increases interoperability with the US Navy and (b) reduces the possibility of friendly fire incidents;

(3) what role the Co-operative Engagement Capability system will have in protecting Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.

(4) what estimate he has made of the amount spent on the Co-operative Engagement Capability system for Royal Navy vessels to date.

Photo of Alison Seabeck Alison Seabeck Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the oral answer of 11 June 2012, Official Report, column 4, on new equipment (expenditure), whether the co-operative engagement capability has been (a) permanently cancelled and (b) not committed to at this stage.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

Co-operative Engagement Capability (CEC) has not been cut; it was never in the committed core equipment programme. The CEC programme entered the assessment phase in 2000. The previous Government then deferred the programme by five years in 2005 and by a further four years in 2010. The Ministry of Defence (MOD)'s expenditure to date on the assessment phase over this whole period is £45.5 million inclusive of non-recoverable VAT.

The MOD carried out a comprehensive study into investing in this capability, however during the three month exercise we concluded that it was not necessary to commit funding to CEC at this stage.

The MOD now manages the Equipment programme on the basis of committing only when funding for the full procurement and sustainment cost of a new project is available and when a commitment needs to be made in order to meet the required in-service date.

The decision not to commit to this project at the moment does not rule out a future commitment to the capability.

Decisions on future commitments will be taken on the advice of the Armed Forces Committee, which makes the budget available and decides what the priorities should be.

The Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend Mr Hammond, made clear last month, the MOD budget has headroom of £8 billion over the next 10 years for potential programmes.

The Armed Forces Committee will prioritise projects for commitment when necessary, and not before.

Without CEC, the T45 Destroyer remains a world leading, state-of-the-art anti-air warfare platform with a range of capabilities for defeating complex threats.

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