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Volume 598: debated on Monday 13 July 2015

Once again, this Government, in stark contrast to what happened during 13 years of the Labour Government, have not relied on a wish list of unfunded equipment projects. Instead, we have balanced the budget and committed to a real-terms increase in the defence budget. We will be meeting our NATO commitments, not just—I will say it once more—on spending 2% of GDP on defence, but on investing 20% of the defence budget on equipment.

Colchester is home to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the Army’s rapid response unit. Will my hon. Friend ensure that it has the best possible equipment to tackle the many challenges that we may ask it to face?

I am very pleased to welcome my hon. Friend to the House. He has a considerable military interest in his constituency, not least the 16 Air Assault Brigade. The new A400M Atlas air transport aircraft is being introduced to replace the C-130 Hercules fleet, and the third of those aircraft was delivered to the RAF last week. The ongoing development trials of the Atlas will mean that parachutists and their equipment from the UK rapid reaction force will be able to parachute from both sides of the aircraft and the ramp, and it will become the air mobility transporter of choice for rapid reaction forces—