asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made on the Private Finance Initiative Project to replace the Bulldog training aircraft. [HL2360]
Bombardier Services has been selected as the preferred bidder for the Royal Air Force's planned Light Aircraft flying task contract. The contractor will supply Grob 115D aircraft. The aircraft will be owned and maintained by the contractor, who wil provide flying hours and support services to the University Air Squadrons and the Air Cadet Air Experience Flights at 13 locations across the UK.The planned contract will provide the RAF with a modern aircraft that is ideally suited to the training role it is required to perform. The aircraft is quieter and significantly cheaper to run than the ageing Bulldog aircraft which it will replace.The choice of aircraft was narrowed down to the Grob 115D and the Firefly M260. The Grob 115D better meets our particular requirements for the University Air Squadron and Air Cadet tasks and in particular its cockpit size and ergonomics offer a better teaching environment. Moreover, the Grob is quieter and operating costs are significantly less than the Firefly. Taking all factors into account, it offers better value for money on this occasion.Subject to final negotiations, the contract is expected to result in savings in excess of £30 million over its 10-year life, compared with the cost of running-on the Bulldog. It is also cheaper than our assessment of the cost of a conventional procurement of a new aircraft fleet.The service is to be procured in line with the Private Finance Initiative, demonstrating the Government's strong resolve to achieve value for money in defence support. Appropriate risks will rest with the contractor and the contract will contain suitable incentives to ensure that the RAF receives a high quality service.