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SUPER LYNX ON HOLD?

09 Feb 05. The PQ in today’s BATTLESPACE UPDATE poses the question we covered in (BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.7 ISSUE 5, February 7th 2005, KBR UK APPOINTED ‘PHYSICAL INTEGRATOR’ FOR UK MoD’S AIRCRAFT CARRIER PROGRAMME) with regard to the Super Lynx Battlefield Recce helicopter replacement. Indications are that the current Lynx fleet could be stretched until 2012 with a number of upgrades. As it stands the EADS NH90 offering is seen as politically unacceptable in some areas, but this may change with budget constraints and more sweeteners for Yeovil from Eurocopter.

PQ Lynx Helicopter
13. Jim Knight (South Dorset) (Lab): If he will make a statement on the future requirement by the armed forces for the Lynx helicopter. [214094]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): At present, we expect the Lynx mark 7 and mark 9 to have an out-of-service date with the Army of 2012, and the Lynx mark 3 and mark 8 to have out-of-service dates with the Royal Navy of 2012 and 2014 respectively. No decisions have yet been taken on the shape of our future rotorcraft capability programme, or on the individual components within it.
Jim Knight: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. He will know that, a week last Friday, workers at Westland celebrated President Bush’s decision to procure the US101 for his presidential fleet. The following Monday, however, a large-scale redundancy programme was announced at Yeovil. Those workers desperately need a decision on the future of Lynx, as do other companies in the supply chain, including South Dorset Engineering in my constituency. Why the delay?
Mr. Ingram: My hon. Friend has been very active in putting forward his constituents’ concerns on this matter. He is right to highlight the great success in achieving the US101 contract, which will give that aircraft much greater export potential. It is undoubtedly a success. We have procured from AgustaWestland the Merlin mark 3 for £750 million, and the Apache in a £4.1 billion project. We are therefore giving our support, but the important aspect of this is to ensure that we understand precisely what we need for our future capabilities. Therefore, rather than rushing into decisions, we must ensure that the £3 billion that we have allocated for rotorcraft capability is wisely spent in a way that will have the maximum impact, one hopes in the UK sector.

The UK urgently needs to renew and rationalise (reduce number of types) of its Military helicopter fleet. Recent accidents (Lynx, EH101) and the difficulty of achieving operational readiness of aircraft for Iraq and Afghanistan have underscored the urgency of the problem.

For some 4+ years, Westland has been discussing with the DPA on a sole source basis, a new super Lynx, deemed unaffordable by the MoD, and not justified by capability requirement.

Now the funding line has been reduced to £3bn up to 2010 to renew the fleet. BLUH and Sabre and other programmes are being rationalised by MoD to:

Find – Battlefield Recce
Lift – which includes existing Chinook and 101’s but seeks to replace aging Sea King, Puma and other types
SCMR and SAR – maritime attack and search and rescue.

But the underlying capability requirements have not yet been finalised by the MoD for any of these. Availability rates of Lynx (30 out of 90 aircraft) and EH101 continue to be a problem. The MoD requires a speedy solution, which meets capability, is a mindful of needs to rationalise types, takes care of through life costs and availability of existing fleet. Army requirements are the most urgent (Find). However Defence industrial policy dictates the need to preserve helicopter skills in the UK. This has been solved by Westland, now Italian owned, which has proposed sole source partnership with the MoD based on the new Lynx and more EH101s.

Surprisingly, Eurocopter are not allowed to discuss actual requirements because MoD is still in sole source discussions; this would seem a somewhat narrow

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