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Nimrod Aircraft

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 8 April 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out details of the transitional arrangements to provide (a) a long range maritime search and rescue capability and (b) a long range anti-submarine warfare capability between the time the Nimrod MR2 was withdrawn from service and the entering into full operational capability of the Nimrod MRA4; and how long he expects that transitional period to last. (325791)

[holding answer 7 April 2010]: The Nimrod MR2 provided a state-of-the-art Long Range Search and Rescue (LR SAR) capability. The Nimrod MRA4 will bring a substantially more capable aircraft into the RAF’s fleet.

In the period of transition until the MRA4 achieves its initial operating capability, we intend to make every effort to ensure that we are able to provide a response to the most serious SAR incidents, using other assets, as available, in the long-range search and rescue role. No specific aircraft has been allocated to the LR SAR task; our response to any particular SAR incident will be dependent on aircraft and crew availability, taking account of other high priority operational tasks.

Nimrod MRA4 deliveries began in March this year and initial operating capability, including for LR SAR operations, is planned to be achieved by October 2012, with some ad hoc capability available before that date.

I cannot comment on long range anti-submarine warfare capability for reasons of national security.