Ministry of Defence
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MoD response to PAC report on Chinook MK3 helicopters
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies has today commented on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report into the MoD's procurement of eight Chinook Mk3 helicopters for the RAF.
This is the fourth report to deal with the Chinook MK3 helicopters and their procurement has been examined in great detail, well-documented and lessons have been acted upon.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies said:
"This is the fourth report which has focussed on the Chinook Mk3 and it offers nothing new. This was a very bad case, and I entirely accept the criticism that successive reports have made. The contract was signed in 1997 - before the introduction of Smart Procurement. Since then we have fundamentally changed our methods of doing business, but this episode will remain a salutary example to us all.
"I am sure that given the problems that existed with this contract the decision to convert these eight aircraft to a support helicopter role was the right one. This will enable us, subject to operational requirements, to increase our Chinook fleet in Afghanistan in 2010 - two years earlier than would otherwise have been possible. This would build on the significant increases in Chinook flying rates that we have already delivered. We are also upgrading Lynx Mark 9 helicopters to improve their performance in the hot and high conditions of Afghanistan and will be switching the Merlins to Afghanistan once they have completed their mission in Iraq - all of which will deliver a significant increase in helicopter capability available to operational commanders in Afghanistan.
"Our priority is on giving military commanders in Afghanistan the helicopters they need, and we have already increased flying hours and helicopter numbers in Afghanistan by 60% over the last two years."
In addition we have deployed upgraded Sea King helicopters to Afghanistan and acquired 6 new Merlin aircraft from Denmark to increase our Merlin fleet by 25%.
Notes to Editors
1. On 11 December the Defence Secretary announced £70 million to upgrade 12 Lynx Mark 9 helicopters with new engines, with the first aircraft available by the end of 2009. Taken with the Chinook Mark 3 reversion, the additional planned Apache capability and the Merlins that we plan to move to Afghanistan once they have completed their mission in Iraq, this will deliver a significant increase in helicopter capability available to military commanders. It also confirmed that the new Agusta Westland Future Lynx helicopter will provide even greater operational capability when it comes into service, as planned, in 2014. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm081211/wmstext/81211m0001.htm#08121142000016
2. On 20 May 2008 the Defence Secretary set out by WMS our provision of battlefield helicopter capability. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080520/wmstext/80520m0002.htm#08052041000013
3. On 30 March 2007, the then Defence Secretary announced that 14 additional helicopters (acquisition of 6 Danish Merlin and conversion of 8 Chinook Mk3s) would be made available for military operations. These additional platforms represent a 25% increase in the UK's battlefield Merlin fleet and a 20% increase in the numbers in the Chinook fleet.
4. The Chinook MK3 reversion programme remains the quickest route to boosting our heavy lift helicopter fleet. It will allow us, subject to operational requirements, to increase our Chinook fleet in Afghanistan in 2010 - two years earlier than would otherwise have been possible.
5. The Public Accounts Committee report into Chinook Mk3 follows the PAC Hearing into Chinook Mk3 held on 18 June 2008. A National Audit Office (NAO) report that led to the PAC hearing was published on 4 June 2008.
6. Boeing is Prime Contractor for the conversion of the Chinook Mk3 and has worked closely with the MoD on this programme. The contract was signed on 14 Dec 07, at a value of $115M.
7. The Government's formal response to the PAC report recommendations will be provided through a Treasury Minute.
8. For further information, please call MoD Press Office 020 7218 7714 or 020 7218 7950.