To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the performance of the Islander aircraft in service with the Army Air Corps.
The Islander aircraft fully meet the Army's performance requirements.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the Islander aircraft have established a reputation as the Rolls-Royce of the skies, being virtually indestructible and operating in one of the most hostile environments in the world? Is not that a tribute to the Islander designers and the engineers who built them? Will my hon. Friend assure the House that they will remain in service for many years to come, unlike the scenario if the Liberal Democrats were ever to implement their 50 per cent. cut in our defence forces?
Yes. I am glad to pay tribute to the aircraft and to PBN, the company which makes it. I welcome the support that my hon. Friend has always given to that company. We have 10 of those aircraft in service. It is a robust and very useful aircraft which is cheap to run and has great endurance. It is a valuable piece of equipment, and my hon. Friend may like to know that in the next two or three years we shall proceed with some large modifications to it which we estimate will bring about £4 million worth of work to PBN on the Isle of Wight. I agree that if the Liberal Democrats came to power, that work would not proceed.