HC Deb 13 March 2002 vol 381 cc1168-9W
Mr. Jenkin

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost is of upgrading GR7 aircraft with new engines, electronics and weapons; whether the upgrade of GR7 includes marinisation of the aircraft; what the cost of marinisation programme will be; how many GR7 aircraft will marinised; and when the marinised Harriers will be in service. [41887]

Mr. Ingram

The Harrier GR7 fleet will undergo two upgrade programmes over the next few years. First, 30 aircraft will be upgraded to GR7a standard by the integration of the Pegasus Mk107 engine. This will provide improved performance, particularly for carrier borne operation. This programme is due to be completed by the end of 2005 at a total cost of approximately £150 million.

Secondly, all Harrier GR7 and GR7a aircraft will receive avionics and weapons upgrades to provide the aircraft with a much improved capability, in particular the ability to deliver the new generation of smart weapons that are about to enter service. These aircraft will be designated Harrier GR9 and GR9a. Although the detailed content of the GR9 programme and the associated procurement strategy have yet to be finalised, it is estimated that the total cost will be approximately £330 million, of which 75% relates to routine maintenance and modification work being undertaken concurrently with the upgrade to minimise costs.

RAF Harrier GR7 aircraft have already successfully taken part in carrier operations. Studies to determine what further marinisation modifications will be necessary are being undertaken in addition to the Harrier GR9 upgrade programme.

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