To ask the Secretary of State for Defence
(1) with reference to the National Audit Office's Major Project Report 2013 Appendices and project summary sheets, what steps he is taking to mitigate the risk posed by insufficient maritime intra-theatre lift assets to support the Joint Combat Aircraft operations aboard Queen Elizabeth class carriers identified in that report;
(2) what assessment he has made of the ability of the V-22 Osprey to conduct maritime intra-theatre lift to support (a) routine operations aboard Queen Elizabeth class carriers and (b) Joint Combat Aircraft operations aboard Queen Elizabeth class carriers;
(3) what assets are available for Maritime Intra-Theatre lift to support the Joint Combat Aircraft aboard Queen Elizabeth class carriers when those aircraft enter service.
Maritime Intra Theatre Lift (MITL) is the movement of passengers, mail and cargo between land and sea and within maritime platform groups; movements in support of the Joint Combat Aircraft will form an element of the total MITL requirement. The Response Force Task Group, of which the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers will form a part, includes a range of assets to achieve MITL, including: afloat support, ship's boats, embarked aircraft and other tactical and strategic lift capabilities.
We expect that the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers will remain in service for up to 50 years. Over this time, a number of complimentary programmes will deliver supporting capabilities, some of which will be related to, and able to deliver, MITL, and are in the Concept Phase of development.