THE GOVERNMENT has scrapped plans to adopt the MR Trigat anti-tank missile in the face of `unacceptable delay and uncertainty’ to the project. The joint-European project is already 10 years behind schedule and has cost £100m.
Defence secretary Geoff Hoon told the UK’s European partners it would not go ahead with the production phase of the medium-range weapon, and would instead look for an `off-the-shelf’ alternative elsewhere.
A Ministry of Defence statement said: `The lack of progress since the UK demonstrated its willingness to proceed with MR Trigat last summer has meant further – and unacceptable – delay and uncertainty in a programme whose in-service date is already 10 years later than was originally planned.’
The MoD added: `We are already investigating an off-the-shelf system for our light forces which will perform better than MR Trigat, and will be delivered more quickly.’
It is understood that amongst alternatives systems under consideration options may include US and Israeli-built systems. The Swedish Bofors MLAW weapon is another anti-tank missile which could meet UK needs.
The Government insisted that the massive investment made in the Trigat project was not a waste of money, claiming that the research and development work undertaken would be useful in developing other weapons.
Hoon stressed his decision on Trigat does not undermine the UK’s commitment to European defence collaboration, which was the subject of a new treaty signed only last week.
Defence giant EADS, one of the Trigat project’s development partners, said it was disappointed at the UK government’s decision which it claimed `was obviously not only driven by new military requirements’.
EADS said the project is `fully under control’ and it is hopeful of keeping Trigat on course with the UK’s former partners, Germany, France and Belgium.
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