§ Mr. Colvin
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what military purpose two self-propelled aircraft loaders are required, as set out in future purchase No. SMC31ARAF076; what consideration was given to leasing or contract hire of such vehicles; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
The two self-propelled aircraft loaders are required to support C130 and VC10 aircraft. Their military purpose is to transport air cargo loads between the aircraft and storage areas, and to transfer those loads both into and out of the aircraft. The leasing of equipment is routinely considered as part of the replacement decision. In general, however, there is no commercial equipment available which meets the specific military requirements and the leasing or contract hire of purpose-built self-propelled aircraft loaders has been shown to be uneconomic. As the specialist nature of these vehicles rules out the leasing of commercially available types, and as the high cost of refurbishment of existing vehicles, which are over 20 years old, precludes that option, purchase was assessed to be the most economic means of meeting its operational requirement.