Armed Forces: Helicopters

House of Lords written question – answered on 5 January 2010.

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Photo of Lord Ashcroft Lord Ashcroft Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Royal Navy will be equipped with an all-Merlin helicopter force to allow it to return to a littoral role.

Photo of Baroness Taylor of Bolton Baroness Taylor of Bolton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Defence and Security) (also in the Ministry of Defence), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (International Defence and Security) (also in Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made on 15 December 2009 (Official Report, cols. WS221-WS222) by the Secretary of State for Defence, the right honourable Bob Ainsworth, announcing a new future rotary wing strategy which will see the Ministry of Defence deliver increased levels of helicopter capability. In addition to the procurement of at least 22 Chinook helicopters, the new strategy will see the retirement of the whole Sea King fleet by early 2016, and the modification of the Merlin Mk3/3a fleet to allow it to contribute to helicopter lift operations on both battlefield and ship-borne littoral operations, in the way that Sea King Mk4 does today. The new strategy assumes post-2016 that all maritime helicopter requirements will be met from the Merlin and Wildcat fleets.

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