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Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if AMRAAM has been equipped on Tornado F3 flying on operations. [62237]

Dr. Moonie: There are currently no Tornado F3 aircraft equipped with the advanced medium range air-to-air missile flying on operations.


Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many Challenger 2 tanks are allocated to each tank regiment in the British Army; and how many are off-road in each case; [62223]

Mr. Ingram: The numbers of Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior armoured personnel carriers allocated to tank and armoured infantry regiments in the British Army and their availability are shown in the tables.

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Challenger 2

RegimentAllocatedNot fully operational
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards489
2nd Royal Tank Regiment448
The Royal Dragoon Guards4416
The Queen's Royal Hussars3013
The Queen's Royal Lancers5418
The King's Royal Hussars440


Battalion (Bn)AllocatedNot fully operational
1st Bn The Irish Guards537
1st Bn The Duke of Wellington's Regiment4422
1st Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers543
1st Bn The Black Watch5313
1st Bn The Royal Regiment of Wales180
1st Bn The Light Infantry358
1st Bn The Staffordshire Regiment393
1st Bn The King's Regiment318
1st Bn The Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment3914

The information is recorded quarterly and the figures represent the position as at 31 March 2002.

As at 31 March 2002, 64 of the 316 Scimitars in the British Army were reported not to be fully operational.

The overall totals for vehicle types are broadly in line with availability targets and, as shown in the following table, vehicle availability has improved significantly, particularly in the case of the Challenger 2, since the last return in December last year.

Equipment type
Challenger 2WarriorScimitars
Total fleet264366316
% operational 31 December 2001627283
% operational 31 March 2002767980
% target availability807570

In addition, it should be noted that if any of the units were required to deploy on operations, any shortfalls would be made good to ensure that the units deployed with a full complement of vehicles.

Fighter Combat Training

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with which foreign aircraft types RAF and Fleet Air Arm pilots have participated in fighter combat training in the past 24 months. [62240]

Mr. Ingram: The following list details the foreign aircraft types with which RAF and Fleet Air Arm pilots have participated in fighter combat training in the past 24 months:

19 Jun 2002 : Column 338W

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which RAF armed Fleet Air Arm squadrons have participated in fighter combat training exercises with overseas air forces in the past 24 months. [62239]

Mr. Ingram: The following table details the fast jet squadrons that have participated in fighter combat training exercises in the past 24 months:

Aircraft typeSquadron number
Tornado F311, 25, 43, 111
Tornado GR1/42, 9, 12, 13, 14, 31, 617
Harrier GR71, 3, 4
Harrier FA2800, 801, 899
Jaguar6, 41, 54

Educational Allowances

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what was the uptake of individual educational allowances in each year since 1997; [62466]

Mr. Ingram: I assume that the hon. Member is referring to what is now known as the learning credits scheme. This scheme comprises two forms of allowance: standard learning credits and enhanced learning credits.

The standard learning credits scheme (SLC) was launched on 1 April 1999 and operates on similar lines to the individual refund scheme (IRS) it replaced, but its value, £175 per year, is 25 per cent. higher. Individuals must contribute at least 20 per cent. of the cost of any learning for which it is claimed. The SLC can, therefore, fund up to 80 per cent. of the cost of learning. This 80/20 split encourages development of individual understanding and buy-in to the learning process.

19 Jun 2002 : Column 339W

Both the SLC and the IRS which preceded it are applicable to a wide range of learning purposes in support of an individual's personal development. The only limitation is that the learning must have a benefit to the services, but, in practice, this still allows almost all forms of development. A representative list of the range of courses includes:

The uptake of IRS/SLC since 1997 for the armed forces is shown in the table.

FYNumber of claimantsTrained strength of armed forcesClaimants as a percentage of trained strength

(1) Army figures unavailable.

(2) Excludes Army.

The second part of learning credits, which will be known as enhanced learning credits (ELC), complements the SLC scheme and is due to be launched on 1 April 2004. This is an imaginative and large-scale initiative to provide partial funding for personnel wishing to undertake academic or vocational education for their own personal development. ELC will enable personnel to access a considerably higher level of sponsorship than SLC and is available for a maximum of three claims (one in each of three separate years which need not be consecutive) during a service person's career and for up to 10 years after leaving the service.

The ELC scheme requires a minimum period of service in order to qualify and there are two levels of claim depending on length of service. The initial qualification period is four years' service after which an individual can claim the lower tier level of funding (£1,000 pa). A further four years' service allows access to the higher tier of

19 Jun 2002 : Column 340W

funding (£2,000 pa). As with the SLC scheme, an individual must show commitment to learning by funding at least 20 per cent. of the overall cost.

The enhanced learning credit scheme will enable the individual to make substantial plans for self improvement in a coherent and long-term fashion and will also encourage employing officers to factor major lifelong learning activities into a subordinate's personal development plan. This will have a positive effect on retention of personnel who wish to lay the foundations for success in their second career while maximising their military potential.

Based on the strength of the armed forces on 1 April 2002 (204,686) and the maximum available credit (£175) the total cost of SLC if every service person were to apply would be some £36 million. However, this does not take account of personnel on operations or already in intensive training who would be unlikely to claim; moreover, it does not reflect the historical take-up of the SLC scheme. Taking this into account, and using the latest figures in the table, a more realistic total cost would be some £4 million.

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