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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

House of Lords Written Answers for Tuesday 30 July 2013

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Asked by Lord West of Spithead: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many F35B aircraft they are planning to purchase. [HL1839]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The overall number of F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to be purchased will not be determined before the next Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015.

Asked by Lord West of Spithead: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to establish an Operational Conversion Unit for the F35B aircraft; and, if so, of how many F35B aircraft it will consist.[HL1836]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have estimated the cost of establishing a Operational Conversion Unit for the F35B aircraft; if so, what is their estimate of (1) the total cost, (2) the initial start-up cost, and (3) annual running costs.[HL1837]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much they estimate it will cost for each pilot to (1) train, and (2) convert to, fly the F35B aircraft.[HL1838]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered using the United States Operational Conversion Unit for the F35B aircraft; and, if so, how many aircraft the United Kingdom would have to provide.[HL1840]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered using the United States Operational Conversion Unit for the F35B aircraft; and, if so, what estimate they have made of (1) the annual costs, and (2) the start-up costs, of doing so. [HL1841]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered using the United States Operational Conversion Unit for the F35B aircraft; and, if so, how much they estimate it would cost the United Kingdom for each pilot to (1) train, and (2) convert, to fly the F35B aircraft.[HL1879]

Lord Astor of Hever: We intend to establish an Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for the F-35B aircraft. Approval for an OCU will be considered by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Investment Approvals Committee as part of the forthcoming main gate decision in autumn 2013. The business case for the forthcoming main gate investment decision will consider a number of options for conducting conversion training on the F-35, including locating the OCU in the United States. The MoD does not publish details of options considered in business cases. An estimate of the costs associated with establishing and sustaining an OCU for the F-35B has been made. These costs will be presented within the main gate business case. The MOD does not publish cost estimates as to do so would undermine its commercial position. The numbers of F-35B aircraft within the OCU will vary over time dependent on the operational output required for the UK Lightning II force.

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