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Armed Forces: Helicopters

Volume 714: debated on Thursday 12 November 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to maintaining Apache helicopters beyond their planned out-of-service date of 2030. [HL6288]

Asked by

The UK MoD has a fleet of 70 Merlin aircraft that are currently in service. The Merlin Mk1 which is used by the Royal Navy entered service in March 1999. The Merlin Mk 3 entered service in June 2000 and the Merlin Mk3a achieved initial operating capability in March 2008; both of these are used by the RAF. The first Merlin to be deployed in Afghanistan has just arrived, and others will follow shortly.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the delay in the upgrade to the Puma helicopter. [HL6320]

There is no delay to the Puma upgrade programme. The contract was placed in mid-September 2009 and is progressing to schedule. We expect that the upgrade programme will be completed by the end of 2014.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what factors they are taking into account in deciding between upgrading the Sea King helicopter and purchasing more Chinooks. [HL6321]

Following the Defence Select Committee’s review into battlefield helicopters in June 2009, we have been looking again at our future helicopter strategy, including whether there is an opportunity to replace some of our older types earlier than planned. We concluded in September 2009 that we should proceed with the planned upgrade to the Puma fleet but have continued to review our plans for the Sea King fleet and how best to meet our future helicopter requirements. This work has focused on ensuring continued delivery on operations, increasing the percentage of our future fleet that can operate effectively in the harsh conditions that we are experiencing in Afghanistan, and reducing the through-life cost of owning and operating our fleets, including by minimising the number of types operated and the variation of build-standard within each type. We anticipate being in a position to clarify our future plans in the coming weeks.