House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 19 May 2008
Air Force: Military Aid
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Royal Air Force last
conducted humanitarian air drop operations; and in what circumstances. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The last time that the RAF, jointly with the Army, conducted
dedicated humanitarian air drops was in April 1991 in Iraq.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Royal Air Force’s
capability is to conduct humanitarian air drop operations; and if he will make a
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Humanitarian air drops are conducted jointly by the Royal Air
Force providing the aircraft and the Army loading the aircraft and delivering
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) 463L pallets and
(b) other pallets used for airdrop operations, the Royal Air Force had in its
inventory in each year since 2001, broken down by type.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Unlike commercial airlines, which use pallets, the Royal Air
Force uses baseboards to load airdrop goods. Records for the number of
baseboards held by the Royal Air Force for each year since 2001 are not held centrally. Currently, we have 207 baseboards in store and it is estimated that there are in the order of 200 baseboards in use.
Armoured Fighting Vehicles
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the funding announced for stage 1 of the Future Rapid Effect System will affect funding available for future purchases of mine-protected vehicles.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD has recognised that there is an urgent need to address the risks faced by our soldiers on current operations. To address this need we are implementing a range of measures including the introduction of protected mobility equipment such as Mastiff, which has proved its value on operations, offering high levels of protection against mines and roadside bombs. The procurement of protected mobility equipment is managed and funded entirely separately from the Future Rapid Effect System programme and will therefore not be affected.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what mine
protection features the Piranha V vehicle will have; 
(2) what additional capability will be afforded to the Army with phase 1 of the
Future Rapid Effect System; 
(3) whether the Piranha V will be designed to allow damaged parts to be unbolted
and replaced after an explosive strike. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Piranha V vehicle hull is shaped to offer protection from the mine blast and the underside of the vehicle is reinforced with appliqué armour to offer additional protection to the crew. Phase 1 of FRES, which I have interpreted as the utility vehicle (UV), will deliver a fleet of wheeled medium weight armoured vehicles with higher levels of deployability and survivability than our current in service lighter armoured vehicles can achieve, with the potential to grow its capability as new technology becomes available. The UV fleet will cover the protected mobility, command and control, medical, repair and recovery and driver training roles. Other elements of the utility fleet to be delivered in later planned increments include specialist communications, electronic warfare and sensor vehicles. The FRES utility vehicle will be designed for a modular armour solution. This will allow damaged sections to be unbolted and replaced.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what types of
warfare the Future Rapid Effect System medium weight capability will be
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 6 December
2007, Official Report, column 1402W, which details the type of warfare for which the FRES medium weight capability will be suitable.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what materi