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Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Volume 499: debated on Wednesday 11 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice he received from (a) the Chief of General Staff, (b) operational commanders and (c) other senior Army personnel on the decision to sell the Army's stock of Gazelle helicopters. (299043)

The advice received from the Defence boards which includes the chiefs of staff, was to dispose of those Gazelle helicopters which no longer have a role in operations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what offers of helicopters he has received from the private sector in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. (299120)

The Ministry of Defence occasionally receives offers from industry to purchase or lease helicopters in support of operations. I am withholding the information as its disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.

Delivering helicopter capability is complex and beyond the immediate procurement of new airframes, additional time and cost is required to modify helicopters to meet specific operational and environmental threats and likely mission requirements, to certify the aircraft, to deliver support arrangements and to train air and ground crew. In order to deliver increased operational helicopter capability quickly, it has often proven more effective to invest in maximising the return from our existing fleets.

Where possible though we have sought to make use of commercial capacity to deliver freight. We have a contract for routine freight movement in Afghanistan, which has allowed our own departmental helicopters to focus on supporting military operations.