§ Mr. Paice
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those companies who were consulted during the evaluation of options for refurbishment of the six ex-Republic of South Africa Puma helicopters, when he expects the(a) first aircraft to be available for service and (b) the final aircraft to be available for service; and if the evaluation included assessment of the costs of awarding the contract to Eurocopter compared with UK-based companies. 
§ Mr. Ingram
[holding answer 19 November 2002]During the evaluation of options, we consulted Eurocopter, the prime Design Authority (DA) for the main structural conversion, and Westland Helicopters Ltd., Yeovil, the designated DA for the United Kingdom-specific equipment fits and installation of United Kingdom-specific modifications.
The timescale for the delivery of the aircraft into service is the subject of contractual negotiations with Eurocopter and Westland Helicopters Ltd. and is commercially sensitive. I am therefore withholding this information under Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
I can confirm that during the evaluation process, full consideration was given to a wide range of issues including cost.