Tuesday, February 24, 2015

British submarine test center to get multli-million pound upgrade

Charles Kennedy MP
Charles Kennedy MP
Philip Dunne, the minister for defence equipment, said the contractor firm which runs the site was planning to invest £22million in its research and testing facilities.
Highland MP Charles Kennedy has repeatedly called for guarantees about the status of the British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre (Butec).
Submarine weapons systems are tested under-water at the sites off Kyle and in the Sound of Raasay.
Philip Dunne
Philip Dunne
Fears were raised about the centre in 2009 when its operator, the defence contractor QinetiQ, proposed job cuts.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon also recently warned that more Ministry of Defence facilities would have to be sold-off over coming years to balance the books.
However, Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out closures in Scotland on Friday, saying “we can afford what we have got”.
Mr Kennedy, former Liberal Democrat leader and MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, raised the prime minister’s comments in Westminster yesterday.
Speaking at defence questions, he said: “Given the very welcome commitments that the prime minister made in Scotland just last week about ongoing defence expenditure, bases and so on, will the government confirm that those commitments extend to the all-important and long-standing Butec submarine range in and around Kyle of Lochalsh and that it has a viable future, given that defence will loom so large at the general election?”
Mr Dunne responded: “I confirm that the UK Government have no plans to close the British underwater test and evaluation centre on the Applecross peninsula and at Kyle of Lochalsh.
“In fact, QinetiQ, supported by the Ministry of Defence, has plans to invest £22million in its research and testing facilities up there, which, of course, would not have happened had Scotland been independent.”
Last June, QinetiQ won a five-year contract worth £5.3million to deploy and maintain the MoD’s underwater acoustic targets, beating the previous incumbent Serco.
The targets are torpedo-sized vehicles that simulate the noise and echo strength of a submarine.
They are used for training submarine crews to detect targets, as well as weapon trials for the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet.

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