§ Mr. Duncan Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason the Exocet missile launcher has 451W been removed from HMS Sheffield; what plans there are to replace it; and what similar work has been undertaken on other ships of this class. 
§ Mr. Spellar
[holding answer 8 June 2000]The Exocet missile launcher has been removed from the batch 2 Type 22 Frigate HMS Sheffield because the variant of the missile used by the RN is now obsolete and no longer in Naval service. There are no plans to replace the launcher. HMS Sheffield remains armed with a potent mixture of weapons and sensors including Seawolf Anti-Air Missiles, Stingray Anti-Submarine Torpedoes and a helicopter able to carry the Sea Skua Anti-ship missile. There are no plans to remove the launchers from the remaining batch 2 vessels in this class as, given their relatively short remaining life, it would not be economic to do so. The latest Batch (3) Type 22 Frigates carry the Harpoon anti-ship missile system.
§ Mr. Duncan Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the programme of work that is being undertaken by his Department in relation to ballistic missile defence. 
§ Mr. Hoon
[holding answer 8 June 2000]Following the policy on ballistic missile defence set out in the Strategic Defence Review, the Ministry of Defence is undertaking a three-year programme of studies known as the Technology Readiness and Risk Assessment Programme. This programme is monitoring developments in the risks posed by ballistic missiles and in the technology to counter them. It is due to be completed next summer. The terms of reference for the programme were announced on 27 July 1999,Official Report, column 203W. In addition, we are contributing to NATO preparations for studies into the feasibility of theatre ballistic missile defence. We expect these studies to start next year.