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Hercules Aircraft

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 21 March 2007, Official Report, column 925W, on Hercules aircraft, if he will take steps to ensure that Hercules aircraft being fitted with explosive suppressant foam are flown to flex the wings after the sealant is applied but before the foam is put in place. (136695)

The replacement of the fuel tank sealant is only undertaken on the Hercules C-130K aircraft. Flying the aircraft between fuel tank sealant replacement and fitting explosion suppressant foam (ESF) would introduce unacceptable delays to this urgent programme. Therefore, quality assurance processes are used to ensure that it is not necessary to fly the Hercules C-130K aircraft after the fuel tank sealant has been replaced but before ESF is fitted.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 21 March 2007, Official Report, column 925W, on Hercules aircraft, how long it has taken for each Hercules aircraft being fitted with explosive suppressant foam to return to active service; and if he will make a statement. (136696)

The Hercules C-130K explosion suppressant foam (ESF) modification takes approximately 44 days per aircraft to complete. The less complex Hercules C-130J modification takes approximately 16 days. The difference in time scale between the two marks of aircraft is due to the need to replace the fuel tank sealant on the older C-130K. In order to improve overall aircraft availability to the front line command, the ESF modification has been combined with scheduled maintenance wherever possible.