§ Mr. Redmond
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his assessment of the impact on United Kingdom defence capability of the recent loss of a Nimrod R.I aircraft; what plans he has to replace the aircraft; and what is the estimated cost. 
§ Mr. Soames
The Nimrod R aircraft which was lost in the Moray firth on 16 May was one of a fleet of three aircraft which provide the UK with an airborne reconnaissance capability, the details of which are classified. The potential loss of capability resulting from the crash is being managed by adjusting the maintenance programme of the remaining two aircraft. Whilst there will therefore be no immediate effect on the United Kingdom defence capability, it is important that the aircraft is replaced as soon as possible. Our plans are to retrieve a reserve Nimrod airframe from storage and have it converted to the reconnaissance role. Contractual negotiations for this work are under way, therefore details of costs are at present commercially sensitive.