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Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the oral statement by the Prime Minister of 12 December 2007, Official Report, columns 303-5, on Afghanistan, how many Sea King helicopters have been deployed to Afghanistan since December 2007. (206178)

An additional four Sea King helicopters have been deployed to Afghanistan since the Prime Minister's oral statement of 12 December 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the joint United Kingdom-France memorandum distributed among the EU Political and Security Committee in early May 2008 on the critical shortfalls in capability which constrain the deployment of European helicopters on military operations. (207034)

The UK and French ambassadors to the EU Political and Security Committee sent a joint letter to the committee on 25 April explaining the proposed UK French helicopter initiative. I shall place a copy in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions members of his Department had with their European counterparts on the joint UK-France initiative to improve European helicopter capability for military operations at the 15 May 2008 European Defence Agency seminar. (207045)

21 member states attended the European Defence Agency (EDA) seminar on 15 May 2008. The seminar took the form of two syndicate workshops covering helicopter crew training and helicopter upgrades.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Joint UK-France Summit Declaration of 27 March, if he will make a statement on the joint UK-France initiative to improve European helicopter capability for military operations. (207107)

I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made following the NATO Bucharest summit on 24 April 2008, Official Report, column 112WS, and to my written ministerial statement on Helicopters on Operations on 20 May 2008, Official Report, column 16WS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Chinook, (b) Merlin, (c) Puma and (d) Sea Kings are in the helicopter fleet; how many are available for use; and how many pilots serving with the armed forces are qualified to pilot each type of helicopter. (207169)

The information requested is shown in the following table.

Helicopter Type

Departmental total (total fleet)

Number available (forward fleet)

Number current and qualified pilots

Chinook

48

29

109

Merlin

70

41

108

Puma

45

34

95

Sea King

135

69

223

For the purposes of MOD reporting, the definition used for the number of helicopters available for use is the number in the Forward Fleet. This figure excludes any aircraft undergoing programmed upgrades, major repair or awaiting disposal. The data provided on the number of qualified pilots, represent the number of pilots in flying roles who are both qualified and current to fly each type. Information on the number of current and qualified pilots who are occupying non-flying roles is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Data for total and forward fleets are as at 1 May 2008.