Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Apache Helicopter

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach : To date, the British Army has sufficient instructors, test pilots and pilots to match deliveries of the Apache AH Mk 1, which are being employed on training, evaluation, trials and development duties.

The conversion and training of field army units and aircrew will start after the Apache full mission simulator is delivered.

Helicopter Blades

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach : The rotor blades of UK military helicopters are protected against erosion in desert conditions in a variety of ways. A number of helicopter types have polyurethane self-adhesive tape applied to the main rotor blade leading edges. This tape is readily removed and replaced as necessary. The remainder have blades with integral titanium or stainless steel leading edges designed to withstand sand erosion.

Challenger 2: Desertisation

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given in another place by my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence on 5 November 2001 (Official Report, cols. 24W–25W) to the honourable Member for New Forest West (Mr Swayne), in which he outlined the options that have been investigated for the desertisation of Challenger 2 main battle tanks. Any decision on desertisation will have to take into account a number of issues, including requirement, timeframe, costs and the number of Challenger 2 tanks that might be involved. All of these factors are currently under consideration and a decision has yet to be made.

21 Nov 2001 : Column WA144

RAF Calendar

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost of producing the large Royal Air Force 2002 calendar; and, in particular, the cost of distributing it to Members of one or both Houses of Parliament.[HL1278]

Lord Bach: The Royal Air Force calendar has been produced jointly by the Directorate of Recruiting and Selection (RAF) and the Directorate of Corporate Communication (RAF) for a number of years as a tool to assist in recruiting and as a means of highlighting the work of the Royal Air Force. Distribution of the calendar is carefully targeted at selected individuals and organisations and the popularity of the product is such that demand always considerably exceeds supply. The RAF calendar has been made available to both the House of Commons and House of Lords for a number of years, with a bulk delivery being distributed internally by staff in Parliament. This method of distribution has now been changed to an individual basis to ensure more effective delivery.

For 2002, the Royal Air Force produced 50,000 calendars at a total cost of £62,633; a unit cost of £1.25p. The quality of the Royal Air Force calendar has been maintained at a high level while production costs have been reduced; for example the 1996 calendar carried a unit cost of £1.65. Postal distribution for the calendar is undertaken by the Defence Storage and Distribution Centre at Llangennech, utilising the Royal Mail at a second-class rate of 43p. The total cost of distribution to the Members of both Houses is £2,256.24.

A400M Military Transport Aircraft

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What new capability the A400M military transport aircraft will provide that cannot currently be obtained from a combination of C17s, C130Js and C130Ks.[HL1313]

Lord Bach: The A400M meets our future transport aircraft requirement and is an extremely flexible aircraft in both the tactical and strategic airlift roles. The long-term airlift requirement could not be met by combining C17s, C130Js and C130Ks, as the C130Ks are ageing aircraft. The C130Ks will leave service as the A400M aircraft are brought into service.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any new benefits provided by the A400M will be outweighed by the support costs of the Royal Air Force having a third type of transport aircraft in service.[HL1314]

Lord Bach: At the point that A400M is fully in service we expect there to be only one other type of transport aircraft in use with the Royal Air Force, the C130J. The C130K aircraft will be phased out in parallel with the introduction of the A400M and the

21 Nov 2001 : Column WA145

C-17 aircraft currently on lease are scheduled to be returned to Boeing at about the same time.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration has been given to forming a European military strategic airlift organisation to operate and support all A400M aircraft; and[HL1315]

    What consideration has been given to setting up an organisation with one main location for the logistic support for all European A400M aircraft once they come into service.[HL1316] Lord Bach: The operation and support concepts for the A400M will be developed in concert with our partner nations and with Airbus Military Company over the next few years. The aim will be to deliver best value for money and the optimum operational effectiveness. We expect the potential for harmonisation of A400M logistic support arrangements will be a major feature of the forthcoming analysis work but have no plans at present to join a European military strategic airlift organisation.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current in-service-date for the RAF A400M fleet.[HL1317]

Lord Bach: The current in-service date for the A400M aircraft is around the end of the decade.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they have taken to prevent partners in the A400M project buying fewer aircraft than they proposed in the plans that originally secured them a share of the work. [HL1318] Lord Bach: The A400M contract will cover both development and production. Thus commitments made at the time of contract let (on which workshare will be based) will be binding for the production phase also. A partner nation could subsequently reduce its offtake but it would then have to compensate the remaining partners so that there is no increase in cost to them. In addition, where the partners are members of OCCAR (the joint armaments agency that is to manage the A400M programme), the principle of global balance will offer the possibility for re-balancing workshare between the relevant member nations over the range of OCCAR managed programmes. Aircraft Carrier Procurement

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the assessment phase of the future aircraft carrier procurement programme.[HL1485] Lord Bach: Assessment work on the new carrier project began in November 1999 when contracts were awarded to two competing consortia headed by BAE Systems and Thales Naval Ltd. The first stage of the assessment was completed in June this year.

21 Nov 2001 : Column WA146

    Since then officials have been working to determine the most efficient and cost-effective way forward for the remainder of the Assessment Phase, taking into account the views of both consortia about the amount of work required to minimise the level of risk in the CVF programme.

    On the basis of that work, contracts have been signed today for both BAE Systems and Thales Naval Ltd to proceed to Stage 2 of the CVF assessment phase.

    For the next 12 months, until November 2002, the competing consortia will concentrate on refining their designs and on taking key trade-off decisions. During this period, there will be a continuous assessment of the two consortia's work, leading to an announcement of a single preferred prime contractor in early 2003.

    The preferred consortia will then continue assessment work through the summer of 2003 in order to provide the robust cost, time and performance information needed to make the main investment decision. This will allow us to make a decision to place a formal build contract in early 2004. The selected prime contractor will be expected to maintain the time, cost and performance proposals agreed at the end of the assessment phase. Following the announcement of a preferred contractor, there will be maximum competition at the sub-contractor level to ensure that robust prices are achieved.

    This approach reflects a sensible revision to the original procurement approach envisaged for the future carrier project. By applying smart procurement principles, it will help to ensure the maximum potential for competition throughout the remainder of the assessment phase. It will ensure that we achieve best value for money for the taxpayer. As part of the new approach, we will make around a further £20 million available to the contractors during the assessment phase.

    The in-service dates of the two new carriers remain unchanged at 2012 and 2015.

    Both BAE Systems and Thales have welcomed this new approach which demonstrates innovative thinking to deliver value for money. It re-affirms in the strongest possible terms this Government's commitment to ensuring that our Armed Forces are equipped with battle-winning equipment. Combined with the future joint combat aircraft, the carriers will provide the UK with a formidable force projection capability.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page