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19 Feb 2007 : Column 216W—continued

Future Large Aircraft

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the first A400M transport aircraft will be operational within the RAF. [119884]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 8 February 2007]: The A400M is planned to deliver operational capability to the RAF from 2011.


19 Feb 2007 : Column 217W

Helicopters

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effectiveness of (i) Bell Griffin HAR2 and (ii) Apache helicopters in recovering individual personnel from a battlefield. [118886]

Mr. Ingram: Since battlefield recovery scenarios vary considerably, local commanders instigate recovery operations within the framework of established doctrine using those assets available to them and judged best suited to the circumstances. We have not undertaken research on the effectiveness of using either of these helicopters in recovering personnel from a battlefield, though we have benefited from US experience in using the Apache for personnel recovery. We do not operate the Bell Griffin in the operational environment.

Hercules Aircraft

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Hercules aircraft have been fitted with foam protection to their fuel tanks; what the timetable is for the fitting of explosive suppressant foam to the rest of the fleet; and if he will make a statement. [117914]

Mr. Ingram: The programme to fit explosive suppressant foam (ESF) to the majority of the RAF Hercules fleet is ongoing. On current plans it is expected that this work will be completed around the end of the year.

Following earlier enquiries the Department has given information on the number of Hercules aircraft fitted with ESF. I do not intend, however, to give continuous updates on progress with this programme as to do so would ultimately reveal the total number equipped with this capability, and this information would, or would be likely to, prejudice the security of the UK armed forces.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what purpose a UK foam protected Hercules aircraft is stationed in the United States; and if he will make a statement. [117933]

Mr. Ingram: A Hercules aircraft is temporarily deployed to the USA for essential crew training to ensure operational effectiveness of the aircrews. I am withholding further details as their release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces.

Housing

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to improve (a) military housing and (b) married quarters. [118942]

Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence is planning to spend over £5 billion on service accommodation in the next decade.

This will deliver 20,000 single living accommodation bedspaces—in addition to the 20,000 bedspaces already delivered since 2001—and will maintain and improve families accommodation.


19 Feb 2007 : Column 218W

Information Infrastructure Contract

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many desktop computers have been installed under Increment 1 of the Defence Information Infrastructure contract; and if he will make a statement; [116467]

(2) how many desktop computers should have been rolled out to date according to the roll-out timetable for Increment 1 of the Defence Information Infrastructure contract. [116469]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 January 2007]: A total of 2,244 new DII(F) desktops had been delivered by 18 January and are operational across 166 of the 680 sites planned for Increment 1.

4,647 DII(F) desktops should have been rolled out by the end of December 2006.

The rate of delivery of DII(F) desktops is determined by a formal rollout schedule and this schedule relies on sites being prepared and ready to receive them. Delays in these areas, and in the provision of some software releases, have had an adverse effect on the speed with which ATLAS are able to roll out DII(F) to sites.

Marine Services

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made with negotiations with Serco on the contract for the future provision of marine services; and when he expects the contract to be finalised. [118931]

Mr. Ingram: Negotiations with Serco Denholm Ltd. are at an advanced stage and the current expectation is that a contract will be awarded in summer 2007.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when bids for the Future Provision of Marine Services were first invited; and how many bids were received. [118966]

Mr. Ingram: Following an industry day in May 2003 and a subsequent pre-qualification questionnaire exercise, four bidders were short-listed, although two subsequently withdrew. In November 2003, the two remaining bidders, Serco Denholm Ltd and the Starfish Consortium (the latter comprising Babcock Naval Services (Clyde), Devonport Management Ltd. (Plymouth), Fleet Support Ltd. (Portsmouth) and Smit International (Scotland) Ltd.), were each invited to submit proposals.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on the award of the Future Provision of Marine Services contract. [118967]

Mr. Ingram: Since 2003 when industry bids were first sought, we received a number of representations on the Future Provision of Marine Services (FPMS). These have included correspondence from hon. and right hon. Members, representations from the Transport and General Workers Union and Prospect Union and the unsuccessful bidder.


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Marines

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what steps (a) have been taken and (b) are planned to prepare 1 Rifles for its attachment to the 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines; [119025]

(2) what operational roles 1 Rifles will play within 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines; [119026]

(3) whether personnel in 1 Rifles will be required to complete the (a) pre- and (b) full all arms commando course prior to their attachment to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines; [119027]

(4) in what way the attachment of 1 Rifles to the 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines (3 CBRM) will increase the (a) (i) organisational and structural depth and (ii) capability of 3 CBRM, (b) delivery of military capability and (c) depth of relationship between the Royal Navy and the Army. [119286]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 6 February 2007]: Detailed planning by Army and Navy staffs and the MOD for the attachment of a fourth manoeuvre unit to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines has been on-going since May 2005. Following my announcement to the House on 29 January 2007, Official Report, column 4WS, a joint Army and Navy working group is taking forward the planning and implementation of the attachment of 1 Rifles to 3 Commando Brigade from 1 April 2008.

1 Rifles will not undertake the Lead Commando Group role but will carry out the role of secondary assault wave manoeuvre unit in the same manner as other Commando Units.


19 Feb 2007 : Column 220W

There is no requirement for 1 Rifles personnel to attend a pre-course or to undertake the full all arms commando course in order to carry out their role as the fourth manoeuvre unit for 3 Commando Brigade. Individuals may in the course of their individual career development apply for and attend the all arms commando course.

The attachment of 1 Rifles to 3 Commando Brigade will enable the Brigade to be both on standby for contingent operations while simultaneously providing units to the Current Operational Commitments Plot. This will increase the overall delivery of military capability in line with Defence Strategic Guidance. The integration of an Infantry Battalion into a strong coalition amphibious structure that includes the US Marine Corps and the Royal Netherland Marine Corps units will have wider Defence benefits. In addition, the co-operation and co-ordination of effort between the Army and Navy will bring benefits in terms of resource and information sharing in the training and education of soldiers and single service tactics, techniques and procedures. Army understanding of operations in the littoral environment will also be broadened.

Marines: Manpower

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel were serving in the Royal Marines on 1 April in each year from 1997 to 2006. [119258]

Derek Twigg: The following table provides the strength figures for Royal Marines at 1 April each year from 1997 to 2006.

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

Total

6,700

6,840

6,750

6,750

6,970

7,010

7,260

7,240

7,350

7,430

Officers

700

690

690

670

670

710

730

740

750

770

Trained

590

600

570

600

580

590

610

650

660

680

Untrained

110

90

120

70

80

120

120

80

90

90

Other ranks

6,000

6,150

6,060

6,080

6,300

6,300

6,530

6,510

6,600

6,660

Trained

5,470

5,410

5,300

5,380

5,530

5,540

5,720

5,850

5,750

5,790

Untrained

530

740

770

690

770

760

810

650

850

880


Military Bases

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many full-time equivalent employees are employed by AWE Management Ltd. at (a) AWE Aldermaston and (b) AWE Burghfield. [120591]

Mr. Ingram: The Atomic Weapons Establishment is managed under Government-owned/contractor-operated arrangements. While our contract is with AWE Management Ltd., a separate company, AWE plc., employs the work force. AWE plc. had 3,990 staff employed at AWE Aldermaston and 331 employed at AWE Burghfield at the end of January 2007.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the potential for the use of small light assault helicopters in (a) Afghanistan and (b) other combat zones. [119165]

Mr. Ingram: We continually review our helicopter requirements to ensure that we have sufficient helicopter support to meet current and anticipated tasks. While we do not use the term “small light assault helicopters”, our helicopters in Afghanistan and other combat zones include those suited to heavy-lift tasks, such as Chinook and Merlin; utility helicopters, such as Lynx, Puma and Sea King; and attack helicopters, such as Apache. No capability gap has been identified for small light assault helicopters.

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has (a) to purchase and (b) to lease helicopters from the US military for operations in (i) Afghanistan and (ii) Iraq. [120601]


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Des Browne: Currently, there are no plans to purchase or lease helicopters from the US armed forces for operations in Afghanistan or Iraq. The US continue to deploy significant numbers of military helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of coalition and NATO operations respectively.

Military Exercises: Warcop

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates land owned by Strathmore Estates adjacent to the Warcop Training Area was used for exercises using AS320 heavy weapons since 2000; and if he will make a statement. [118318]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 7 February 2007]: The information requested is not held centrally and will take a little time to collate. I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.


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