HC Deb 20 November 2000 vol 357 cc5-6W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what initiatives his Department outlined at the university of Lancaster for a range of new equipment capabilities designed to improve the SSN's operational effectiveness in littoral zones; what initiatives were laid out for a network-centric concept of operations; and if he will make a statement; [138982]

(2) what plans the Royal Navy Submarine Service has for improved connectivity and advanced intelligence, surveillance, targeting, and reconnaissance capabilities to change the contribution of nuclear attack submarine to future joint operations; and if he will make a statement. [138978]

Mr. Spellar

At the Submarine Centennial Conference (27–29 September 2000), the Ministry of Defence's Equipment Capability Customer organisation outlined the research programme to inform new equipment capabilities that will improve our ship, submarine and aircraft operational effectiveness, in support of littoral operations contributing towards a more joint defence capability. Rear Admiral Rob Stevens, Flag Officer Submarines, and members of his staff, also addressed the conference.

The research programme includes work relevant to operations in littoral zones: hull-mounted sonar arrays; communications technologies; Recoverable Tethered Optical Fibre buoys; and mine detection and avoidance.

We are also conducting research related to a network-centric concept of operations, and to improve connectivity and advanced intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance capabilities. The aim is to integrate underwater assets fully with wider maritime, air and land forces. There is a large programme of research and development work under way specific to the underwater battlespace. Some highlights include research into multistatics, allowing ships, submarines and maritime aircraft to exploit each other's sensors; remote sensor active acoustics; long-range acoustic communications; remotely deployed sensor systems; static sensors and Underwater Unmanned Vehicles. These technologies have wide military utility, and commercial applications, which are also developing rapidly, will be taken into account.

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