A report published by the Defence Committee has warned of issues facing the Royal Navy with regards to its heavyweight anti-ship missile capability.
The report states:
“For the Royal Navy to be an effective force its surface fleet must be properly equipped with a suite of offensive and defensive weapons. To date, this has included a specialist, heavyweight anti-ship missile capability, in the form of the Harpoon missile system.
When Harpoon exits service in 2023, there will be a serious capability gap, until the potential entry into service of FC/ASW programme in 2030. This gap will not be adequately filled by the smaller and more lightweight anti-ship missiles that will be available from 2020 onwards on the Navy’s Wildcat helicopters.”
The report, drafted and agreed by both Committees, marks the culmination of the first joint Inquiry between a House of Commons Committee and a Committee of a non-UK legislature.
The Inquiry, which is a new step in UK-French inter-parliamentary cooperation on defence and national security matters, has focused on one of the most ambitious products of the Lancaster House Agreement signed between the UK and French Governments in 2010 – the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme.
Commenting on the report, the Chairman of the Defence Committee, the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP said:
“The FC/ASW programme is an exciting opportunity to deepen the UK’s and France’s defence partnership and the ‘One Complex Weapons Initiative’, involving MBDA, that has helped to sustain key skills in both countries’ defence industrial bases.
However, for the programme to succeed, it is clear that some significant issues need to be resolved before the ‘concept phase’ concludes in 2010 and both Governments must approach these issues in a spirit of pragmatism and compromise.
If these issues can be resolved – and we are confident that they can – then this programme has the potential to strengthen considerably the cooperation between our two countries, including our role in the collective defence of Europe within NATO.
Today’s report is a testament to the strength of the UK’s defence partnership with France, irrespective of our forthcoming departure from the European Union.”