[holding answer 24 February 2009]: The MOD does not hold information on NATO forces expenditure of phosphorus in Afghanistan in the last two years. NATO forces in Afghanistan use phosphorus munitions to produce a smoke screen to provide cover and thus protection for troops on the battlefield, and not in an anti-personnel capacity.
We will provide our Merlin helicopters with modifications appropriate to the environmental conditions and hostile threats which the Merlin force is likely to encounter in Afghanistan. These modifications will include the fitting of improved rotor blades to allow the aircraft to operate in hot and high conditions and changes to the aircraft’s defensive aids suite. Details of this equipment is being withheld as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.
All procurement will be undertaken by AgustaWestland as the prime contractor.
It is envisaged that all 28 Merlin Mk3/3a helicopters will eventually be upgraded at a cost in the region of £50 million. This equates to an estimated average of £1.8 million per aircraft.
The number of aircraft to be deployed on operations in Afghanistan is being withheld as disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.