§ Mr. Sweeney
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's claim for compensation for damage caused to Tornado F3 aircraft by Airwork Ltd. 
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
A negotiated settlement has been reached in respect of my Department's claim for structural damage to Tornado F3 aircraft while being modified by Airwork Ltd. during 1992–93. I am pleased to report that, of the 16 aircraft involved, 11 have been repaired and delivered back to the RAF and the remainder will be delivered progressively over the next few weeks, with the last due for delivery in May this year. One aircraft was lost in the crash off Blackpool in September 1996, the cause of which was not related to the modification programme on which Airwork had been engaged. The F3 aircraft were repaired by replacing the damaged centre fuselages with those from surplus F2 aircraft which had been earmarked for disposal. This was to ensure that the aircraft were returned to operational service as soon as possible.
In choosing to replace the centre fuselage, the aircraft have been given valuable additional fatigue life. The overall cost of this work has been around £20 million. Taking this improvement into account, together with the costs which might have been incurred had arbitration been pursued, we have agreed that the Bricom Group, which owned Airwork at the time of the damage, will pay £5 million to the Ministry of Defence in settlement of our claim.