HL Deb 17 June 2002 vol 636 cc54-5WA
Lord Vivian

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the cost-effectiveness of Tomahawk land attack missiles as launched by vessels of the Royal Navy; what improvements they are considering in arrangements for embarking these missiles; what plans they have for replenishing and increasing the stock of these missiles and for extending launch capability to further vessels and other platforms. [HL4629]

Lord Bach

The cost-effectiveness of the Tomahawk land attack missile (TLAM) capability was initially established when the project was approved in 1995. The missile's utility has since been confirmed during operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan when the availability of the TLAM capability from United Kingdom submarines enabled us to undertake precision attacks, at long range, against selected targets.

The Block IIIC TLAM missiles, currently in service with the Royal Navy, are launched horizontally from submarine torpedo tubes. The next generation tactical Tomahawk (TACTOM) block IV missiles being produced for the US Navy can currently be fired only vertically and are therefore not suitable for UK submarines. Jointly funded UK-US feasibility studies have, however, identified a solution that would allow TACTOM to be launched horizontally from submarine torpedo tubes. Further development work is planned to start later this year, subject to completion of contractual negotiations. Improvements to arrangements for embarking Tomahawk missiles are not necessary.

Since the original purchase of the block 1IIC variation to TLAM, additional remanufactured TLAMs have been procured to replace those used during the Kosovo campaign. A contract for the further purchase of remanufactured TLAMs was also signed in February 2002. No decision has been taken on whether the UK should procure the next generation TACTOM block IV missile or whether the launch capability should be extended to further vessels or other platforms.