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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effectiveness of (i) Bell Griffin HAR2 and (ii) Apache helicopters in recovering individual personnel from a battlefield. 
Mr. Ingram: Since battlefield recovery scenarios vary considerably, local commanders instigate recovery operations within the framework of established doctrine using those assets available to them and judged best suited to the circumstances. We have not undertaken research on the effectiveness of using either of these helicopters in recovering personnel from a battlefield, though we have benefited from US experience in using the Apache for personnel recovery. We do not operate the Bell Griffin in the operational environment.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Hercules aircraft have been fitted with foam protection to their fuel tanks; what the timetable is for the fitting of explosive suppressant foam to the rest of the fleet; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The programme to fit explosive suppressant foam (ESF) to the majority of the RAF Hercules fleet is ongoing. On current plans it is expected that this work will be completed around the end of the year.
Following earlier enquiries the Department has given information on the number of Hercules aircraft fitted with ESF. I do not intend, however, to give continuous updates on progress with this programme as to do so would ultimately reveal the total number equipped with this capability, and this information would, or would be likely to, prejudice the security of the UK armed forces.
Mr. Ingram: A Hercules aircraft is temporarily deployed to the USA for essential crew training to ensure operational effectiveness of the aircrews. I am withholding further details as their release would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many desktop computers have been installed under Increment 1 of the Defence Information Infrastructure contract; and if he will make a statement; 
The rate of delivery of DII(F) desktops is determined by a formal rollout schedule and this schedule relies on sites being prepared and ready to receive them. Delays in these areas, and in the provision of some software releases, have had an adverse effect on the speed with which ATLAS are able to roll out DII(F) to sites.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made with negotiations with Serco on the contract for the future provision of marine services; and when he expects the contract to be finalised. 
Mr. Ingram: Following an industry day in May 2003 and a subsequent pre-qualification questionnaire exercise, four bidders were short-listed, although two subsequently withdrew. In November 2003, the two remaining bidders, Serco Denholm Limited and the Starfish Consortium (the latter comprising Babcock Naval Services (Clyde), Devonport Management Ltd. (Plymouth), Fleet Support Ltd. (Portsmouth) and Smit International (Scotland) Ltd.), were each invited to submit proposals.
Mr. Ingram: Since 2003 when industry bids were first sought, we received a number of representations on the Future Provision of Marine Services (FPMS). These have included correspondence from hon. and right hon. Members, representations from the Transport and General Workers Union and Prospect Union and the unsuccessful bidder.
(4) in what way the attachment of 1 Rifles to the 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines (3 CBRM) will increase the (a) (i) organisational and structural depth and (ii) capability of 3 CBRM, (b) delivery of military capability and (c) depth of relationship between the Royal Navy and the Army. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 6 February 2007]: Detailed planning by Army and Navy staffs and the MOD for the attachment of a fourth manoeuvre unit to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines has been on-going since May 2005. Following my announcement to the House on 29 January 2007, Official Report, column 4WS, a joint Army and Navy working group is taking forward the planning and implementation of the attachment of 1 Rifles to 3 Commando Brigade from 1 April 2008.
There is no requirement for 1 Rifles personnel to attend a pre-course or to undertake the full all arms commando course in order to carry out their role as the fourth manoeuvre unit for 3 Commando Brigade. Individuals may in the course of their individual career development, apply for and attend the all arms commando course.
The attachment of 1 Rifles to 3 Commando Brigade will enable the Brigade to be both on standby for contingent operations while simultaneously providing units to the Current Operational Commitments Plot. This will increase the overall delivery of military capability in line with Defence Strategic Guidance. The integration of an Infantry Battalion into a strong coalition amphibious structure that includes the US Marine Corps and the Royal Netherland Marine Corps units will have wider Defence benefits. In addition, the co-operation and co-ordination of effort between the Army and Navy will bring benefits in terms of resource and information sharing in the training and education of soldiers and single service tactics, techniques and procedures. Army understanding of operations in the littoral environment will also be broadened.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the potential for the use of small light assault helicopters in (a) Afghanistan and (b) other combat zones. 
Mr. Ingram: We continually review our helicopter requirements to ensure that we have sufficient helicopter support to meet current and anticipated tasks. While we do not use the term small light assault helicopters, our helicopters in Afghanistan and other combat zones include those suited to heavy-lift tasks, such as Chinook and Merlin; utility helicopters, such as Lynx, Puma and Sea King; and attack helicopters, such as Apache. No capability gap has been identified for small light assault helicopters.
Mr. Ingram: The Atomic Weapons Establishment is managed under Government-owned/contractor-operated arrangements. While our contract is with AWE Management Ltd., a separate company, AWE plc., employs the work force. AWE plc. had 3,990 staff employed at AWE Aldermaston and 331 employed at AWE Burghfield at the end of January 2007.
Des Browne: Currently, there are no plans to purchase or lease helicopters from the US armed forces for operations in Afghanistan or Iraq. The US continue to deploy significant numbers of military helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of coalition and NATO operations respectively.
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates land owned by Strathmore Estates adjacent to the Warcop Training Area was used for exercises using AS320 heavy weapons since 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 7 February 2007]: The information requested is not held centrally and will take a little time to collate. I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
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