Aircraft Carriers

Defence written question – answered on 11th July 2012.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on training individuals to handle and fly the CATOBAR aircraft since its introduction.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave on 30 April 2012, Hansard, column 1123W. I will write to the right hon. Member once the costs associated with this training have been collated.

Substantive answer from Peter Luff to Jim Murphy:

In my answer to your questions related to the costs of our training individuals to handle and fly-Catapult Assisted Take Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft (Official Record 23 April 2012 : Column 716W) I said that I would update you on this issue.

To clarify the position on those personnel training with the US Navy as of July 2012 we now have nine Royal Navy pilots at various stages of training with US Navy carrier borne aircraft. This training does include the use of catapult and arrestor gear, but I should make clear that this is a small element of the wider carrier strike training and interoperability package being undertaken with the US Navy.

As part of the training programme for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, there remains a requirement for the Royal Navy to train a cadre of suitably qualified and experienced personnel who will supervise embarked carrier aviation in the future, and this training with the US helps to fulfil this requirement.

The Royal Air Force also has a long-standing reciprocal Pilot Exchange Programme and there are currently two Royal Air Force pilots flying US aircraft under this arrangement, which attracts minimal additional cost.

The requirement for, and continuation of, such training will see Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel gain experience of frontline carrier capability in its widest sense, and the incorporation of US Navy training courses. The current training programme is focused on development of a UK understanding of large carrier Flight

As part of this process, a UK/US Statement of Intent on Carrier Co-operation and Maritime Power Projection was jointly signed by the Secretary of State for Defence and the US Defence Secretary on 5 January 2012.

I hope you will understand that, given the scope of this training, we continue to discuss the associated costs with the US authorities. When we have collated this information, I will consider its release.

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