HC Deb 06 February 1978 vol 943 cc442-4W
Mr. Ronald Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he received the evaluation of the original tender for a stores management system for the Tornado aircraft and the estimated cost of a less ambitious system; why he decided to opt for the less capable system; and if he is satisfied with its progress.

Dr. Gilbert

The results of the evaluation by the three partner nations and the NATO MRCA Management Agency of the original tenders for a stores management system for the Tornado aircraft were available in early 1972. The work subsequently placed with industry was halted principally because of difficulties in designing the system to meet the space constraints determined by the aircraft and because of the difficulties that it was foreseen might arise in maintaining the system in-service. The stores management system now being developed will meet the operational needs and in-service date of the RAF. It is not the Ministry's practice to reveal cost information on weapons systems under development.

Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give a revised estimate of the cost per aircraft of the Tornado, including the research and development costs, particularly in the light of the additional weapon costs; by what percentage the cost per aircraft increased on the original estimate; when he anticipates the weapons control system will be completed; whether the British version will now be interchangeable with the German and Italian versions; and what effect the differences are likely to have on the cost of the British version.

Dr. Gilbert

The latest estimated unit production costs for the Tornado aircraft are £7.9 million for the interdiction strike version (IDS) and £9.4 million for the air defence variant (ADV). The increase in real terms in the estimated unit production cost of the IDS since the start of full development in 1970 is about 22 per cent., and of the ADV, which entered full development in 1976, about 2 per cent. It is not the practice to reveal total estimates of development costs.

Italy and the United Kingdom have decided to procure the same stores management system for the IDS version of the Tornado, while the FRG has elected to procure a different system. Development of the former is now well advanced and good progress is being maintained. Delivery of production units is expected to match that of production aircraft. The two equipments will not be interchangeable, but will provide inter-operability between the aircraft and existing weapons of the three countries. If the FRG had chosen the same equipment as her partners, the total cost of the system to the United Kingdom would have been about £2 million less at current price levels.

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