HC Deb 15 June 1999 vol 333 c66W
Mr. Matthew Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times Ministers in his Department have met members and officials of the United States Government since 1 March; and if he will list the dates and locations of each meeting, the Ministers involved on each occasion, and the names of the members and officials of the United States Government at each meeting. [86286]

Mr. George Robertson

Since 1 March 1999, MOD Ministers have had scheduled bilateral meetings with our US counterparts, who are normally accompanied by officials, on the following occasions:

ASTOR is a joint Army and RAF requirement for a ground-surveillance radar, expected to enter service in 2005. It will provide a substantial enhancement of military capability, using highly effective new radar systems installed on five fixed-wing aircraft to provide a high degree of resolution over a wide area of coverage. It can be used to monitor areas of interest from a stand-off position, in peace and in crisis, and could be deployed at short notice in support of United Kingdom, NATO or United Nations operations. The ASTOR Main Operating Base will be located at RAF Waddington.

ASTOR will provide UK industry with valuable, high-technology work. The project management team will be located in the United Kingdom, and the prime contractor will place work representing 100 per cent. of the contract value with UK firms. The project will be managed by the Defence Procurement Agency under Smart Procurement principles, with an Integrated Project Team involving representatives from industry and the Services. The likely value of the contract is about £800 million.