§ Dr. Moonie
This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Procurement Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Sir Robert Walmsley to Mr. Christopher Gill, dated 29 February 2000:I am replying to your question to the Secretary of State for Defence about the stage that has been reached in the development of the TRACER/FSCS system; and whether he would make a statement about its future prospects. This matter falls within my area of responsibility as Chief of Defence Procurement and Chief Executive of the Defence Procurement Agency.TRACER is a UK/US collaborative programme. Contracts for project definition studies, worth a total of some £180m. were awarded in January 1999 to two consortia: LANCER, an alliance of BAE SYSTEMS and Alvis Vehicles with United Defense and Raytheon; and SIKA, a joint venture company formed by BAE SYSTEMS and Lockheed Martin. The consortia are competing for a single demonstration phase contract although neither nation is formally committed beyond the current phase, and any decision to proceed to future project phases will be the subject of further national approvals.The current phase of the programme is of 42 months duration, completing in July 2002. The key aims of this phase of the programme are to reduce progressively areas of programme risk and to secure firm price proposals for the demonstration and initial manufacture phases. The programme is proceeding to schedule and both participating governments are pleased with progress to date. In parallel, studies are being conducted to examine the potential use of unmanned air vehicles. The outcome of these studies will be used to inform the UK decision on the optimum mix of platforms, technologies and sensors, and the role that TRACER will play in the Army's future battlefield information gathering system.A feature of defence procurement is the high cost of the sophisticated systems being brought into service. Conflicting demands on the available resources inevitably lead to priorities being under systematic review. The current budgetary review process in the US, which could have implications for the TRACER programme, is being closely monitored; and we are in regular contact with the US DoD.