Billions wasted on pilotless choppers

Link: MoD accounts in the firing line

The 30 Apache attack helicopters, which cost £45m each, will have to be mothballed until the Army’s pilots have completed essential retraining.

According to the National Audit Office report, the retraining programme is expected to be completed in February 2007, long after the choppers have been delivered.

The report diplomatically said: ‘Delivery of the Apache is going broadly to plan but risks remain and there may initially be some capability gaps.’

Pilots, groundcrew and maintenance staff are being trained for the Apache under a separate 30-year £1bn PFI deal in a joint venture of Boeing and Westland known as Aviation Training International.

The NAO said: ‘Separation of the training services from the prime contract late in the procurement has led to a split of responsibilities, and the Department (MoD) has incurred additional costs of £34m for training courses that have not run.’

The Ministry of Defence has ordered 67 helicopters in total, and the Army expects to take delivery of the complete fleet by April 2004.

However, the delivery schedule has been changed to help reduce the need to mothball helicopters that cannot be flown by the pilots.

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