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Mr. Bob Ainsworth:
The Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) programme consists of three classes of ships (Fleet Tanker, Fleet Solid Support and Joint Sea Based Logistic), which will carry fuel, stores and provide logistic support for maritime and expeditionary forces including the Future Carrier. MARS Fleet Tankers will be procured competitively and the design and build requirement was advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union on 10 December 2007. No decisions have yet been made however, as to where the ships will finally be built. The procurement strategies for later ship classes in the
MARS programme are still under development to ensure flexibility within the programme.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions have taken place with staff at BAE Govan and Scotstoun about the procurement of the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability project. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) Integrated Project Team has ongoing dialogue with a number of key players in the shipbuilding industry, including BAE Systems. BAE Systems attended the MARS Industry day in November 2007 and has registered its interest in delivering the Fleet Tanker (FT) element of the MARS programme. Upon request, those interested in delivering the FT have been provided with a pre qualification questionnaire and, if returned, this will be evaluated during February and March 2008.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of each helicopter type in the (a) Army Air Corps, (b) Royal Navy and (c) RAF are (i) in service and (ii) fit for purpose. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The numbers and types of helicopters utilised by the Royal Navy, Army Air Corps and Royal Air Force which are in the forward fleet and considered fit for purpose are detailed in the following table. Forward fleet aircraft are those that are available to the front line command for operational and training purposes (i.e. those not in depth maintenance). Aircraft defined as fit for purpose are those considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date.
|Forward fleet||Percentage of total fleet||Fit for purpose||Percentage of forward fleet|
The figures shown are the average for the month of November 2007. The number of helicopters fit for purpose will vary from day to day due, primarily, to routine maintenance requirements. Operational capability is measured in terms of flying hours rather than the number of airframes available.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK defence attachés and advisers there are
(a) at each UK diplomatic post, (b) in each region of the world and (c) in total; what their responsibilities are; how many defence attaché posts have been (i) established and (ii) discontinued at each diplomatic post since 1997; and what effect the withdrawal of Foreign and Commonwealth Office funding for the defence attaché network has had on his Department's plans for its funding. 
|Region/country||Defence attaché/defence adviser||Military attaché||Naval attaché||Air attaché||Country total|
|(1) DA is supported by an Assistant DA. (2 )DA is supported by an Assistant DA. (3) DA is also the AA and is supported by an Assistant Air Attaché shown under the Air Attaché column above.|
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