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Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Volume 494: debated on Wednesday 17 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many helicopters are in service in the armed forces; and what the (a) target and (b) actual number of each type of helicopter fit for purpose is. (279950)

“In Service” has been taken to mean the effective fleet which covers all aircraft barring those which are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal.

“Fit for Purpose” aircraft are those in the forward fleet ie available to Front Line Commands for operational and training purposes (including those that are classed as “short term unserviceable”) that are considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date.

The number of helicopters “Fit for Purpose” varies from day to day due, primarily, to routine maintenance requirements. Therefore, the figures in the table are averages for May 2009:

Helicopter type/mark

In-Service1 (effective fleet)

Fit for Purpose—target

Fit for Purpose—actual2

Augusta 109

4

2

3.3

Apache

67

18.1

14.0

Chinook Mk2/2a

40

19.0

18.4

Gazelle

42

15.4

20.1

Lynx Mk3/Mk8

61

26

26.4

Lynx Mk7/9

94

35.0

23.0

Merlin Mk1

42

20

14.1

Merlin Mk3/Mk3a

28

12.4

10.7

Puma

34

17.5

15.9

Sea King Mk3/3a

25

17

10

Sea King Mk4/6

42

18.0

16.2

Sea King Mk5

15

7.5

7.4

Sea King Mk7

13

6.5

5.9

1 As at 1 June 2009

2 Averages for May 2009

Operational capability is measured in terms of flying hours rather than the number of airframes available. All rotary wing operational requirements are currently being met.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has for the replacement of the Royal Navy's fleet of Lynx helicopter at the end of its service life. (280087)

The Wildcat will replace the current Army and Royal Navy Lynx helicopter fleets from 2014 and 2015 respectively.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the monetary value is of his Department's contract for the upgrade of Puma helicopters; and if he will make a statement. (280088)

No contract for the upgrade of the Puma helicopters has been placed.