Friday, 25 January 2008

Two in three helicopters unfit for purpose

Just a few weeks ago the inquiry into the death of Cpl Mark Wright placed the blame on the absence of lifting equipment in the Chinook sent to medevac him. Today we learn that only a third of British helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan are fit for frontline operations. Of the 180 out there only 62 are fully operational and the rest are being cannibalized to keep these few in the air. These helicopters not only support the troops on the ground and provide safe transport (roads being vulnerable to IEDs) but are also vital for the speedy evacuation of the wounded to field hospitals.
Earlier this month it was also announced that the Defence Aviation and Repair Agency (Dara), which repairs British helicopters used in Iraq and Afghanistan, is to be privatised and sold off to Vector Aerospace, an Canadian company outside the control of the British Government. This sell-off is just the latest stage in a cost-cutting exercise begun by Hash Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Figures provided by the Ministry of Defence show that there has been a £1.4 billion cut in spending on helicopters during Brown's "stewardship".

Link> The Telegraph: Third of Army helicopters fit for the front-line
Link> The Guardian: Uproar over sale of helicopter repair agency to Canadian firm