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Military Aircraft

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of the future aircraft carrier programme in each of the next five years. (284532)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 20 November 2008, Official Report, column 667W.

Following the equipment examination (EE) we decided to delay the carriers by one to two years, recognising that this would add cost. The new cost will be at least £4.6 billion but we are not yet able to provide a final estimate.

We do not release annual funding profiles as these are planning assumptions that are inevitably subject to a significant amount of variation, and their availability could also prejudice commercial interests.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) required and (b) actual crew number for each helicopter type was in each of the last five years. (284543)

Historical figures for helicopter crew numbers are not held in the format requested. The numbers of aircrew personnel for each helicopter type are provided in the following tables.

Royal Navy

As at 1 July 2009

Required strength

Actual strength

Lynx Mk3/8

133

124

Lynx Mk7/9

20

20

Merlin Mk1

189

174

Sea King Mk4/6

139

139

Sea King Mk5

68

65

Sea King Mk7

46

43

Army Air Corps

As at 6 July 2009

Required strength

Actual strength

Apache AH Mk1

100

80

Lynx Mk7/9

100

106

Gazelle Mk1

34

34

Dauphin N3 AH Mk1

7

6

Bell 212

24

24

SAAVN1

46

41

1 SAAVN figures cannot be split by aircraft type (AH/Squirrel/Lynx/Gazelle).

Royal Air Force

As at 6 July 2009

Required strength

Actual strength

Chinook

262

222

Merlin Mk3/3a

159

130

Puma

127

129

Sea King Mk3/3a

140

132

Defence Helicopter Flying School

As at 6 July 2009

Required strength

Actual strength

Squirrel

20

18

Griffin

62

61

Required and actual strengths will both vary with time due to many factors including operational requirements, the introduction of newly trained crew on completion of training courses at set times during the year, the number of trained personnel assigned to non-flying duties (as part of the necessary broader career development), injuries, and service leavers.

In addition, the RAF is going through a high level of change with aircrafts drawing down, going through structure change, forming new squadrons or bringing new aircraft into service. Therefore, crew figures are fluctuating on a daily basis.

The helicopter fleet is managed to ensure that our operational and other commitments are met, including an 84 per cent. increase in flying hours in Afghanistan between November 2006 and April 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) required and (b) actual number of pilots in the armed forces is for the Sea King HAR3/3A helicopters. (284780)

The required and actual number of pilots in the armed forces for the Sea King HAR3/3A helicopters is given in the following table:

Aircraft type: Sea King HAR3/3A

Number

Required pilots

66

Actual pilots

64

A difference between the ‘required’ and ‘actual’ number of pilots is to be expected. The variation is due to a number of factors such as promotion, assignment to other aircraft or ground posts, medical downgrading and leaving the service.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the merits of deploying single propeller-driven aircraft in theatre for ground attack and surveillance. (286440)

Commanders on the ground already have access to a broad range of surveillance and ground attack capabilities and, while we keep our requirements under constant review, there are currently no plans to deploy manned, single propeller-driven aircraft for ground attack or surveillance. We have though deployed the unmanned single propeller aircraft, UK Reaper and Hermes 450, in surveillance roles, with UK Reaper also providing a ground attack capability.