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Seedcorn Initiative

Defence written question – answered on 24th November 2011.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence

(1) how many personnel are taking part in the Seedcorn initiative; what the location is of each; and with what equipment they are training;

(2) what capabilities are being maintained through the Seedcorn initiative;

(3) what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the Seedcorn initiative in each of the next five years.

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The Seedcorn initiative will sustain the Ministry of Defence (MOD)'s capability to operate high level fixed-wing Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) and maintain the associated skills of its personnel. Qualified RAF aircrew will be on exchange with a variety of Allied MPA forces, where they will maintain their anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, long-range search and rescue, and Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) skills.

The estimated cost of the initiative on average is £2.4 million per year for the next five years; this includes salary and allowances.

Retaining skills and MPA knowledge is vital if the United Kingdom is to be in a position to regenerate our own MPA capability at some point in the future.

The number and location of personnel and equipment to be used is as follows:

Location Aircraft Number of personnel
Canada Royal Canadian Air Force Greenwood CP-140 Aurora 7
New Zealand Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Whenuapai P-3K Orion/P-3K2 Orion 5
  Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea Beech King Air B200 1
Australia Royal Australian Air Force Base Edinburgh AP-3C Orion 4
United States Naval Air Station Norfolk Non-flying appointment related to maritime operational staff duties. 1
  Naval Air Station Patuxent River P3C Orion 2

Additionally, discussions are ongoing with the US Navy on an exchange initiative for fully qualified RAF aircrew to support the US P-8A Poseidon programme.

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