HL Deb 17 June 2002 vol 636 cc53-4WA
Lord Vivian

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress they are making with their plans to provide the Royal Air Force with full weather precision bombing capability; and what in-service dates for this capability they currently anticipate. [HL4627]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach)

Invitations to tender for the precision guided bomb contract were issued to six potential contractors in October 2001. Three of these, MBDA, Raytheon and SAGEM, agreed to participate in a two-stage assessment process. Stage one concluded on 31 May 2002, with the decision not to involve SAGEM any further forward in the competition. MBDA and Raytheon's bids will now be assessed in more detail during stage two of the process. The two-stage process reflects Smart acquisition in progress—the elimination of one tenderer at the end of stage one saves both the Ministry of Defence and industry time and money. It is expected that the final selection of a contractor will take place early next year.

The in-service date for the precision guided bomb is planned for late 2006. In the interim, the Tornado GR4 has been given an all-weather precision guided bomb capability with enhanced paveway laser guided bombs, which entered service on 27 October 2001.