House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 21 May 2009
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the performance and effectiveness of the UK’s current fleet of AW101 Merlin helicopters; for how long he estimates those aircraft will remain in service in the UK armed forces; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The UK operates two basic variants of Merlin helicopter; the Merlin Mk1, which entered service in 1999, delivers a variety of maritime roles and the Mk3/3a, which entered service in 2000 (Mk3) and 2008 (Mk3a), is operated in a battlefield support role. Since introduction into service, the Merlin helicopter has proved itself to bea very capable modern operational platform, having already provided excellent support to operations in Iraq and ongoing maritime and anti-piracy operations. We expect to deploy the Merlin to Afghanistan later this year. Our Merlin aircraft are expected to remain in service for at least another 20 years, and we are exploring opportunities to extend this further. The Merlin Mk1 is already undergoing a major capability sustainment activity and we are currently investigating the optimum means of maintaining Merlin Mk3/3a capability.
Defence Storage and Distribution Agency: Disciplinary Proceedings
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the Chief Operating Officer and Financial Director of Defence Storage and Distribution Agency has been suspended.
Mr. Kevan Jones: The Defence Fraud Analysis Unit has conducted an investigation into commercial activities at the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency. While fraud has not been identified, the report raises potentially serious issues and an internal investigation has therefore been commissioned. The chief executive and former finance director, now director corporate services, have been suspended on full pay pending the outcome of this investigation.