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Future Large Aircraft

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 5 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the numbers of C130Js or future large aircraft required by the Royal Air Force. [13137]

In addition to the 25 C130J already ordered, the FLA Request for Proposal (RFP) is seeking information on orders of 40–50 aircraft to meet our Hercules Rolling Replacement requirement. The Strategic Defence Review is considering our future aircraft requirement, and the final decision on the number of aircraft the UK will buy will depend on the conclusions reached by the review and the responses to the RFP.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his current estimate of the earliest in-service date for a future large aircraft with any European air force. [13138]

The future large aircraft is expected to be available early next century.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the costs to the RAF of maintaining both C130J and FLA transport aircraft in-service simultaneously.[13140]

A preliminary assessment of the costs of meeting our future air transport requirements was made before the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 31 July 1997, Official Report, column 466, that we would join partners in issuing a Request for Proposals for the future large aircraft and would be encouraging our partners to join us in seeking competing bids from other aircraft manufacturers. This assessment indicated that there was merit in exploring the purchase of the future large aircraft to operate alongside C130Js which were ordered in 1994.We will make a further detailed assessment, which will include an analysis of the costs of in-service support, after we have received the responses to the Request for Proposals and any competing bids. This analysis, and the conclusions of the Strategic Defence Review, will inform the final procurement decision.