HC Deb 18 February 1994 vol 237 cc1050-1W
Mr. Nicholas Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he will announce the result of the competition for the selection of the common new generation frigate United Kingdom platform prime contractor.

(2) when he expects to place the contract for construction of the first common new generation frigate; and what build programme is expected for the follow-on ships of this class.

Mr. Aitken

Following competition, GEC with a consortium of BAe and others have been selected as the UK member for the Franco-British-Italian international joint venture company which will design and build the three first of class ships which are planned to enter service around the turn of the century. The international contract will include important work on the integration of the various weapons systems into the combat system for the ship as a whole and will involve the companies concerned in taking greater responsibilities for a ship of this complexity than has been possible to achieve in the past. The selection of the consortium will enable the combined strengths of GEC Naval Systems, which includes Yarrow Shipbuilders and BAe Defence Systems, supported by Vosper Thornycroft and BAe/SEMA to be brought to bear on this important project and will enable UK industry to play a full part in association with French and Italian industry.

Our current plans are that the joint venture company will be invited to bid against a specification to be issued later this year with the design contract to be placed in 1995. Subject to satisfactory progress the build of the UK first of class ship will commence in three or four years' time. All UK shipyards will have the opportunity to compete for the build of follow-on ships of this class in five or six years' time, when sufficient progress has been achieved on the first of class ship.