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Armed Forces: Aircraft

Volume 706: debated on Thursday 22 January 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress is being made on the HELIX programme to upgrade aircraft electronic surveillance. [HL515]

The HELIX programme is in the assessment phase, and we are considering options to meet the requirement. This work will inform our decision, which is expected in early 2009.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when the ASTOR surveillance system will be available for operational deployment. [HL516]

ASTOR was declared to be in service in November 2008, and has undertaken a short operational deployment during which the capability was assessed. It will now build up to full operating capability, expected to be reached in 2011.

Asked by

Airbus Military has announced a series of delays in the development and production of the challenging A400M programme, and has recently indicated that first deliveries to customer nations will be three years after the achievement of first flight of the A400M prototype. Airbus has indicated that first flight will occur no earlier than the second half of 2009, and has also announced a slowdown in its production plans. Early A400M production aircraft will be delivered to some of our partner nations and therefore the first UK delivery would occur at least six months after Airbus delivers the first A400M. This suggests that initial UK deliveries cannot start before 2013.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they will take to ensure that the Royal Air Force will have adequate air refuelling capacity until the A400M enters service. [HL555]

Air-to-air refuelling capacity is provided by the RAF's VC-10 and Tri-Star fleets, which will be replaced by the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (Airbus 330-200) from 2011 when they begin to enter service. We keep our requirements under review, but we currently have no requirement for A400M to provide air-to-air refuelling.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the expected extra cost of maintaining adequate air-to-air refuelling capacity caused by the late delivery of A400M aircraft. [HL556]

Air-to-air re-fuelling capacity is provided by the RAF's VC-10 and Tri-Star fleet, which will be replaced by the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (Airbus 330-200) from 2011 when they begin to enter service. There is no requirement for the A400M to provide air-to-air refuelling and therefore no expected extra cost.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government for what reason, other than cost, did they specify that the A400M air tankers should be delivered without flight refuelling capacity. [HL557]

There was no capability requirement for the A400M to have the capacity to provide or receive flight refuelling, and this remains the case. Air-to-air refuelling is provided by VC-10s and Tri-Stars, which will be replaced by the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft from 2011 when they begin to enter service. We retain the scope to provide a refuelling capability from the A400M in future, should we determine that additional capacity is required. Because of its long range the A400M does not require the capability to be re-fuelled in flight itself.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the A400M aircraft to start to come into service with the Royal Air Force; and when they expect the full number of those aircraft to be fully operational. [HL576]

Airbus Military has announced a series of delays in the development and production of the challenging A400M programme, and has recently indicated that first deliveries to customer nations will be three years after the achievement of first flight of the A400M prototype. Airbus has indicated that first flight will occur no earlier than the second half of 2009, and has also announced a slowdown in its production plans. Early A400M production aircraft will be delivered to some of our partner nations and therefore the first UK delivery would occur at least six months after Airbus delivers the first A400M. This suggests initial UK deliveries cannot start until 2013.

The UK has ordered 25 A400M aircraft, with the last delivery expected to occur five years after the first UK delivery. The aircraft are intended to be operational from first delivery, with its full capabilities being incrementally introduced as part of the planned development programme.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government to what extent they retain control over United Kingdom participation in the programme for the A400M aircraft; and to what extent they have assigned such responsibility to the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR). [HL577]

Partner nations have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and contract for the A400M programme. The MoU describes the governance mechanisms for the programme and how decision making is facilitated between nations.

The Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) was established by France, Germany, Italy and the UK with the primary aim of providing improved management of co-operative defence equipment programmes. OCCAR management processes and procedures have been developed in conjunction with the founder nations, and follow international best practice. The A400M partner nations jointly agreed the high level objectives for the programme and the boundaries within which the OCCAR executive administration (EA) will operate. The working parameters are set out in the mandate which assigns the responsibility for managing the programme to OCCAR. Under this mandate, the director of OCCAR-EA is directly accountable to the A400M programme board, on which the nations are represented by their national armaments directors, for the delivery of this programme.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what life extension programmes are under way for each class of C130 aircraft; and what updates are under consideration. [HL688]

A wing refurbishment programme is currently being undertaken on a number of Hercules C-130K aircraft as part of a fatigue life extension programme.

Following the recent announcement of delays by Airbus Military in the A400M programme, extension to the life of the Hercules C-130K is under consideration, alongside a number of other options, as a contingency to mitigate any potential capability gaps that may arise.

There are no life extension programmes currently under way or planned for the Hercules C-130J.