A recent Parliamentary Answer had a rather surprising ommission
Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the remaining (a) establishment and (b) structure of the Fleet Air Arm is in terms of (i) manpower and (ii) aircraft.
Nick Harvey (Minister of State (Armed Forces), Defence; North Devon, Liberal Democrat)
After implementing the decisions taken in the strategic defence and security review, the Fleet Air Arm will operate the following helicopters:
30 anti-submarine Warfare Merlins;
28 Maritime Wildcats;
25 Commando Merlins; and
6 Battlefield Wildcats.
In addition, some second line aircraft will be used for training purposes. It will employ 1,179 officers and 3,186 ratings.
The Fleet Air Arm remains the Ministry of Defence’s Maritime Aircraft Operating Authority and is a joint partner in the Joint Combat Aircraft programme.
Anyone see where a Sea King ASaC Mk.7 replacement will fit into this, it’s not like we have already spent millions on ‘feasibility studies’ is it.
It has been assumed by many, including me, that the Sea Kings would go out of service in 2016 to coincide with SAR-H (oh dear), the Merlin conversions being available and the systems transferred into the ‘spare’ Merlin HM.1 airframes.
Perhaps it is just an omission and everything will be OK (anyone convinced)
Is 28 Maritime Wildcats too much given their role and number of surface combatants likely to be in the future Royal Navy?
This would also seem to confirm that the FAA will be getting those RAF Merlin’s after all, when they have been converted to a maritime capability they should have always had, or, the tooth fairy will deliver 25 Commando Merlin’s fresh from the manufacturer!
It also looks like 847 Naval Air Squadron will be equipped with a total of 6 Battlefield Wildcat helicopters.