Skip to main content

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest assessment is of the helicopter fleet's fitness for purpose; and if he will make a statement. (306419)

We constantly monitor the helicopter fleet to ensure that sufficient helicopters and helicopter hours are provided to meet requirements. The helicopter fleet is currently meeting all its operational and training commitments, both in the UK and overseas.

Helicopter capability is measured in terms of flying hours rather than the number of airframes available, and we continue to review requirements and adjust as necessary.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the capability of the private sector to provide helicopters to complement existing UK defence capability in (a) Afghanistan, (b) Iraq, (c) the Balkans and (d) Somalia; and if he will make a statement. (306547)

The United Kingdom does not have enduring military commitments in the Balkans, Iraq or Somalia that require the support of civilian contracted helicopter capability. In Afghanistan, the United Kingdom already maintains a contract for medium and heavy lift helicopters to carry freight in support of military operations. In addition, NATO has a commercial contract delivering freight lift, which UK Forces utilise as part of the wider coalition.

We will always consider opportunities to enhance helicopter capability, including the use of private sector helicopters, provided that service delivery meets defence standards and operational requirements.