14 Jan 08. RAF: Pilot Training. The Armed Forces’ Minister said (14 Jan 08) that the “indicative cost” to train an RAF pilot up to transfer to an Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) is about £3.1m for Fast Jet, £0.6m for Multi-engine and £0.8m for Rotary Wing. In 2004/05 there were 1,260 applicants for pilot training of whom 100 progressed into service; in 2005/06 the figures were 1,120 and 120 and in 2006/07 they were 1,160 and 140.
Comment: New entrants into the RAF are not considered to have joined the trained strength until they have completed a course at an OCU, although the end of training is usually defined as the point when a pilot moves to an OCU. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0804, 21 Jan 08)
Jan 08. Future Aircraft Carriers (CVF): Costs. The Defence Secretary has recently (8 Oct 07) repeated that the project to provide two future aircraft carriers “is currently expected to cost £3.9 billion” (£3,900m). A final price is to be settled “by 2010”.
The Armed Forces’ Minister subsequently (30 Oct 07) confirmed that the UK’s procurement cost of the Joint Strike Fighter was “likely to be up to £10 billion [£10,000m], depending on the number of aircraft required”.
Comment: The above figures are repeated in order to correct nonsense which has appeared in the media. For instance, the figures given by the ‘Financial Times’ in a recent ‘Notebook’ piece (16 Jan 08) were misleading. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0804, 21 Jan 08)
15 Jan 2008
Afghanistan: Armoured Fighting Vehicles
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons he chose the Ridgeback to meet his requirement for additional specialist protected vehicles for Afghanistan. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Ridgback is the name that will be given to the vehicle that
the Ministry of Defence selects to meet the requirement for additional protected patrol vehicles for Afghanistan—a requirement stated by military commanders. We are considering a number of factors, including mobility, capacity and protection as part of our assessment work. Negotiations are continuing and I am withholding
further details on the likely vehicle or vehicles being considered as their release would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness and security of our armed forces.
Armed Forces: Deployment
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the
Government have taken to improve the morale of armed forces personnel on operational duty. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD spends some £54 million per year on the provision of welfare services for our forces on operations. The exact provision of welfare facilities is dependent on location and the operational situation, but wherever possible personnel should receive 30 minutes of free telephone calls per week to anywhere in the world; free e-mail and internet access; a free forces aerogramme
(bluey), e-bluey, fax bluey and photo bluey service; a free postal packet service; access to TVs, radios, DVD players and video gaming machines; British
Forces Broadcasting Service TV and radio transmissions; books, newspapers, magazines and board games; combined services entertainment live shows and celebrity visits; rest and recuperation (R and R); the provision of basic shop facilities; a free Christmas box; the provision of financial assistance to home units to assist with families’ welfare; the provision of concessionary families’ travel; and post deployment leave. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the nature of some operations means that our personnel can often be deployed from a permanent base to a forward operating base where facilities are necessarily more basic, but even in these situations we aim to provide iridium satellite telephones and Textlink e-mail/SMS messaging terminals as a minimum. The morale of our forces personnel in operational areas is good.