(2) what estimate his Department has made of the cost of supplying and modifying three replacement MRA4 aircraft platforms to fit UK requirements; what assessment he has made of the additional capability such platforms will provide; and if he will make a statement.
The Helix programme is examining the future manned airborne electronic surveillance capability.
The costs of using the Nimrod MRA4 platform and the Rivet Joint system and the capabilities they provide are currently being assessed against this requirement, along with the Nimrod R1 platform, as part of the preparations for a main investment decision expected in 2009.
The Nimrod MRA4 production contract covers nine aircraft with an option to productionise the three trials aircraft. We continue to discuss this possible extra work with BAE Systems, but no decision has yet been reached.