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24 Oct 2002 : Column 433Wcontinued
Dr. Moonie: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House on 10 July this year Official Report column 878W, there has been no change in the Government's commitment to the Eurofighter project, which has now been re-designated Typhoon.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the programme to maximise the effectiveness of AMRAAM equipped Tornado F3 aircraft; how much this will cost; and when he expects the work to be completed. 
Dr. Moonie: Work is continuing on the AMRAAM Optimisation Programme which will optimise the effectiveness of the missile system on Tornado F3. The programme is expected to cost under #30 million and is on course to achieve In Service Date at the end of this month. Work on the programme, which will comprise a number of incremental capability enhancements, is due to complete on schedule in 2004.
Dr. Moonie: The contractual in-service date for the Nimrod MRA4 is March 2005, though risk analysis suggests the date will be later in 2005. BAE SYSTEMS have recently acknowledged a delay in the programme for the first flight of Nimrod MRA4. The consequences of first flight slippage on ISD and potential mitigation action are being urgently examined by the Ministry of Defence and the Company. The results of this work will be available at the end of the year. It would therefore be premature to speculate on the impact of this slippage on the in-service date for the MRA4.
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Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has not yet conducted sea trials in respect of the Apache Helicopter operating from aircraft carriers or helicopter carriers. We are planning to conduct appropriate trials on HMS Ocean in March 2004.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent to Veterans Agency customers informing them of their options for receiving benefit from April 2003. 
Dr. Moonie: I am making arrangements to place in the Library of the House a copy of the letter sent to Veterans Agency customers, informing them of their options for receiving benefit from April 2003.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of scrambling an RAF aircraft following the breach of the air exclusion zone around Sellafield in August by a light aircraft; and what provisions exist to recharge BNFL for this security action. 
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the decision to bomb command-and-control posts in Iraq was a joint decision of the US and UK Governments; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: Coalition aircraft conduct patrols of the Iraqi no fly zones in support of UN SCR 688, which demanded an end to Saddam's repression of his own people. The aircrew conducting those patrols are regularly subjected to sustained attacks from Iraqi integrated air defences. The United States and United Kingdom government are in agreement that the coalition pilots facing such threats should be allowed to
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Consideration was given to equipping the Harrier GR9 with ASRAAM as part of the upgrade programme. However, as the Harrier GR fleet is already equipped with the Sidewinder AIM9-L for defensive purposes, and the purpose of the GR9 upgrade is to improve offensive capability, it was concluded that fitting of ASRAAM would not represent the best use of Ministry of Defence resources.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if his Department (a) has and (b) has had a policy of trying to alter the number of members of the Armed Forces within specific age groups; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what recruitment and retention targets his Department sets for specific age brackets within the Armed Forces; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 22 October 2002]: The Armed Forces do not set recruitment or retention targets based on, or related to, specific age brackets other than specifying minimum and maximum age limits (and waivers may be obtainable for the latter category in certain instances).
The annual targets prepared by the Armed Forces are based on detailed calculations of the numbers required to deliver military capability, in accordance with the Government's defence policy. Each Service prepares detailed manpower plans to provide the numbers and skills it requires in each branch and trade group.
Detailed manpower planning by the Principal Personnel Officer in each Service aims to sustain military capability, and at the same time provide careers for their people that will satisfy personal aspirations and withstand competition in the labour market place. It has not always been possible to maintain ideal career structures in all parts of the Services through the rapid changes which took place in the last decade, and past failures to achieve recruiting and retention targets can create imbalances that last a generation. Occasionally the Services have to resort to targeted retention incentives in order to sustain operational capability, and length of service can be a factor in the targeting process.
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Before taking this course we carefully assess the impact of such incentives on all the people who may be directly or indirectly affected.
The Ministry of Defence has not, and has never had, a policy aimed at trying to alter the number of members of the Armed Forces within specific age groups, although previous policies may have had this incidental effect. Our policies in relation to recruitment, career management and resettlement are based on the principle of maintaining sustainable experience profiles within each branch of the Armed Services. We see this principle as fundamental to operational effectiveness, and to attracting and retaining the people we need to deliver it.
Currently, the Naval Service has a Three-Tier Commission for officers and RN ratings and RM other ranks serve on a time to serve basis ie 22 years. In the Army both officers and soldiers now serve on a Length of Service based career structure. For the RAF with the exception of a retirement age of 55, most control/exit points are linked to length of service and rank, not age.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 1 July, Official Report, column 37W, on RAF training (1) how many additional instructors will be required to meet the tasks transferred from RAF Church Fenton; 
(3) how many staff at RAF Church Fenton will be subject to Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) legislation as a result of transferring the Joint Elementary Training School tasks to the university air squadrons; 
(4) whether the cost effectiveness has been assessed of transferring the duties of the Joint Elementary Flying Training School at RAF Church Fenton to the university air squadrons. 
The total number of qualified flying instructors at the University Air Squadrons is 69. However, the additional duties of the Squadron Commanders and Chief Flying Instructors reduce the available flying training time to the equivalent of 50. There are currently no ground instructors at the University Air Squadrons.
No staff at RAF Church Fenton will be subject to Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) legislation. It is expected that their task will be absorbed into the existing arrangements for the University Air Squadrons. This means the task will be done in a different manner and location rather than simply transferring to another contractor.
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