§ Mr. Key
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the cost to date of Project ASH; to whom the contract was originally let; which companies have subsequently been involved; when the database and management aid for handling unexploded ordnance will be in service; and if he will make a statement. 450W
§ Mr. Spellar
The cost to date of Project ASH is around £2.7m including VAT. A contract for development and production was placed with EDS Defence Ltd. in November 1994. Other companies which have been involved are Bactec International Ltd., for database population, VEGA Group PLC, providing technical support to the Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive, and Thompson-Thorn Missile Electronics Ltd., who are conducting work on training needs. Although ASH was accepted into service in October 1996, further work was required to be done to the database and for management aid for handling unexploded ordnance. Following user trials in February 1999 it is expected that an improved version of ASH will be accepted and subsequently deployed to Bosnia to assist Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams.