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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for Monday 03 September 2012

Afghanistan

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of airlifting equipment and supplies out of Afghanistan should overland routes not be a viable option for withdrawal in 2014. [115883]

Peter Luff: Every effort is being made to ensure ground lines of communication (GLOCs) (overland routes into, and out of, Afghanistan) remain open. The Pakistani Government recently announced that it will reopen the Pakistani GLOC following a telephone conversation between US Secretary of State Clinton and Pakistan Foreign Minister Khar.
NATO has also secured the necessary memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with the central Asian republics that facilitate the northern distribution network (the northern entry or exit point to and from Afghanistan) which has been further reinforced by UK bilateral MOUs.
Where there are no time pressures, low grade materiel equipment and supplies would be recovered by surface means in shipping containers. However, recovery by air forms a significant part of the UK redeployment plan particularly for protected mobility vehicles, sensitive materiel and outsized loads. The approximate costs of the redeployment of surface containers range from £5,000 to £12,000 per container. For the air line of communication, costs range between £10,000 and £30,000 per container equivalent, either returning directly to the UK by air or by a combination of air and other options. The detailed costs would vary depending on the scenario and would be subject to commercial in confidence considerations between the Ministry of Defence and partnered contractors.

Aircraft Carriers

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Queen Elizabeth Class ships will be configured to allow shipborne rolling vertical landing of the F-35B. [118359]

Peter Luff: That is our intention, and since the decision to revert to the short take off and vertical landing aircraft variant was announced in May 2012, the Ministry of Defence and Aircraft Carrier Alliance have been working to understand the challenges of integrating a shipborne rolling vertical landing capability into the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which fixed wing aircraft are capable of taking off and landing vertically on aircraft carriers. [118360]

Peter Luff: The short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter and the Harrier are currently the only aircraft capable of landing vertically on aircraft carriers.

Armed Forces

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that reductions in spending on the armed forces do not reduce their readiness for action. [115682]

Mr Philip Hammond: I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made on 14 May 2012, Official Report, column 261, on the Defence Budget and Transformation, where I explained that the best way I can support our armed forces as they restructure and refocus themselves for the future is to give them the assurance of stable and well-managed budgets and the confidence that the equipment programme is affordable and deliverable. We have achieved this, allowing our armed forces to move forward and to deliver the adaptable force structure described in the strategic defence and security review with confidence. The Army is confident that, through an expansion of reserves and their effective integration with the Regular Army, greater use of contractors and intelligent targeting of the manpower reductions in the support arms (where reserves and contractors can more readily play a role) the impact on military readiness is minimised.

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to publish full details of the future allocation of resources to regular and reserve forces. [115685]

Mr Philip Hammond: T

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