§ Mr. Wilkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to place a contract for the logistic support of the Royal Air Force's Tornado GR4 aircraft. 
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
My Department has negotiated a major contract with British Aerospace for the logistic support of the new equipment on the RAF's Tornado GR4 aircraft over the next five years, and will sign a contract very soon. The contract will be worth well over £100 million to BAe and its major sub-contractors, GEC-Marconi Avionics and Smiths Industries. It will help to sustain approximately 400 to 500 jobs, primarily at sites in Warton, Edinburgh, Rochester, Portsmouth and Cheltenham.
The contract will introduce a new degree of industrial support to front-line aircraft, embracing training, spares, technical publications and ground equipment. It will transfer financial risk to industry and this, with the exacting performance targets we have agreed, will provide the RAF and the taxpayer with a high-quality and cost-effective service.