HC Deb 27 March 1996 vol 274 cc639-40W
Mr. Robathan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends to place a contract for the new attack helicopter for the Army; and if he will make a statement. [23664]

Mr. Arbuthnot

Following the satisfactory conclusion of negotiations, I am pleased to announce that a contract has been signed with GKN-Westland Helicopters for 67 Apache attack helicopters each to be equipped with the Longbow fire control radar and powered by Rolls-Royce RTM322 engines. Apache will replace the Army Air Corps' Lynx anti-tank helicopter.

Around 180 UK companies are involved in the order. Hunting Engineering and Shorts of Belfast will be involved in supplying the weapons.

To ensure we have the optimum mix of flexibility and fire power, 48 of the aircraft will be deployed to the frontline in three regiments of 16 aircraft—two with 24 Air Mobile Brigade at Wattisham and one with three (UK) Division at Dishforth. These regiments will also provide support to 1 (UK) Division and the Royal Marines. Nine aircraft will be based at Middle Wallop for training and trials and one at Boscombe Down for trials. The remaining nine aircraft will be held at royal naval aircraft yard, Fleetlands as a peacetime attrition reserve. A regiment from 24 Air Mobile Brigade will form the core of the lead aviation battle group of the joint rapid deployment force.