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Future Rotacraft Coherency Study

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place a copy of the conclusions and recommendations of the Future Rotacraft Coherency Study in the Library. (94830)

I am unable to provide a copy of the document requested as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests. However some elements of the Future Rotorcraft programmes were reported in the Defence Industrial Strategy and announcements were also made earlier this year. In summary we plan to prosecute the following:

A contract has been placed with Lockheed-Martin to ensure continuity of capability and introduce an open-systems architecture (to enable cost-effective management of obsolescence) on the Merlin Mkl—the Royal Navy's airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare capability.

A contract has been placed with AgustaWestland to provide new Future Lynx aircraft in order to meet the Army's Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopter and the Royal Navy's Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft requirements.

A package of work, known as the Chinook Mk2/2A coherence programme, is being progressed to establish a single configuration baseline and reduce the overall cost of supporting the Chinook fleet.

A competition has been launched under the Private Finance Initiative, joint with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, for the provision of a UK-based peacetime helicopter Search and Rescue capability.

A programme of work, known as the Lift Advanced Concept Phase, is being undertaken to determine how best to invest further in the battlefield helicopter Lift capability, including the balance between Medium and Large lift aircraft.

On Chinook Mk3, we continue to work with Boeing to identify a robust, affordable and value for money approach before taking decisions on how best to proceed.

The Apache Attack Helicopter is presently being successfully deployed on operations and work is ongoing to determine how this capability can be best sustained through-life, including investigations to extend the out-of-service date of the aircraft.

We also keep under constant review how best to sustain and refresh the helicopter capability provided to operations.

In addition, we are also pursuing work with a number of helicopter suppliers to implement revised and novel arrangements to support our current platforms through long-term, partnered contracts that require industry to provide serviceable aircraft at the front line. These arrangements have already been contracted for Sea King, Merlin and Chinook aircraft. Similar arrangements are being explored for other aircraft and we intend to focus efforts on ensuring convergence and that lessons are learnt, shared and implemented.