HC Deb 21 June 2004 vol 422 cc1177-8W
25. Ms Coffey

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress with the Nimrod project. [179383]

Mr. Ingram

The agreement reached with BAE Systems in February 2003, embodied in a formal contract amendment on 23 February this year, has put the Nimrod MRA4 programme on a much sounder footing for the future. Under the restructured contract, design and development and production have been separated as far as possible, to ensure that technology is adequately de-risked before making further commitment to production price and schedule. The MOD, however, has been approving low risk production activities when it makes sense to do so, where these help maintain essential skills and product knowledge as well as preserve schedule.

While risks and challenges remain, the development and manufacture of the first three Nimrod MRA4 aircraft to be used in the flight trials programme is well under way and we are making good joint progress towards first flight this summer with the first trial aircraft having successfully undertaken low speed taxy trials at Woodford on 12 June 2004.