Royal Air Force

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 3rd November 2008.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 2:30 pm, 3rd November 2008

If he will make a statement on the future strike capability of the Royal Air Force.

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Photo of Quentin Davies Quentin Davies Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment and Support)

The Government's plans to equip the RAF with Typhoon and joint combat aircraft will give it the most powerful strike capability in its history.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

Will the Minister assure the House that the Government are committed to, and will order, the joint strike fighter?

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Photo of Quentin Davies Quentin Davies Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment and Support)

As the hon. Member knows, the joint strike fighter is in its development phase, and we will need to take the decision next year about purchasing the first two development aircraft. We have to take this stage by stage, and I shall be going to America to talk to the major manufacturer fairly shortly. This programme is essential to our plans, and we remain absolutely committed to it.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Shadow Minister (Science and Innovation)

On the subject of procurement, the Government promised in the last strategic defence review to purchase 10 Astute class submarines. By 2004, they had reduced the number to eight, and I do not know what the figure is today. What has changed—

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Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

Order. The hon. Gentleman is asking about the Navy. As a former Territorial in the Army, I know that there is a difference between the RAF and the Navy. I call Mr. David Taylor.

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Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour, North West Leicestershire

Will my hon. Friend the Minister comment on the training implications of the future strike capability of the RAF? In particular, does he think that the Metrix consortium's contracts to train military personnel over the next 30 years, which have increased in cost by £1 billion, are adequate for the purpose? There seems to be a cabal of private companies locking the taxpayer and the military into a private finance initiative scheme that is costing much more money over the years for a far inferior service to the RAF and other forces.

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Photo of Quentin Davies Quentin Davies Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment and Support)

I can assure my hon. Friend that the RAF is clear that the arrangements that we are making for training are indeed adequate for the purpose, to use his phrase.

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