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Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average cost is of upgrading a Merlin helicopter for use in Afghanistan. (287103)

It is envisaged that all 28 Merlin Mk3/3a helicopters will be upgraded at a cost in the region of £42 million. This equates to an average of £1.5 million per aircraft. These figures are lower than previously reported and stated in the written answer my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), gave on 2 March 2009, Official Report, column 1364W, to the hon. Member for Congleton. This is due to improved maturity in our cost estimates following work undertaken in the intervening period.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the conversion of the eight Mark 3 Chinook helicopters; and if he will make a statement. (287104)

The conversion of the Chinook Mk3 helicopters is progressing well. The first successful test flight of the modified aircraft took place in June 2009. This is a significant milestone on the project. The programme is on schedule to deliver the first aircraft to operational commanders later this year.