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Military Aircraft: Deployment

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the maximum flight endurance time without mid air refuelling is for a (a) Typhoon eurofighter, (b) Harrier GR9, (c) Tornado GR4 and (d) Super Tucano; and what the average fuel consumption level is for each aircraft. (319849)

Flight endurance and fuel consumption depend on a number of factors including payload, operating altitude, weather conditions (including ambient temperature) and speed. To achieve maximum endurance, the aircraft types requested would have to be flown with no operational weapons and would be fitted with the maximum number of additional external fuel tanks instead. Combat aircraft do not fly in this configuration when conducting operations, as this would negate their combat capability.

For academic purposes given the same atmospheric conditions, a single-engine turboprop aircraft such as the Super Tucano flying in this configuration would have greater endurance and lower fuel consumption rate than fast jet types but would have less endurance than turboprop unmanned aerial vehicles like Reaper.

Fast jet aircraft have significant advantages in terms of faster transit times, higher operating altitudes and greater weapons, avionics and defensive aids payloads. This provides greater operational flexibility and agility. Furthermore, unrefuelled flight endurance is a relatively minor factor for fast jets, as the Tornado, Harrier and Typhoon would benefit from air-to-air refuelling.