The Ministry of Defence could write off more than £200m spent on eight Chinook Mk3 helicopters.
The helicopters are an enhanced version to the type of helicopter which crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994 amid concerns over its “Fadec” engine control software.
The eight helicopters may be used for spare parts, Kevin Tebbit, the most senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence told a hearing at the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee last week. His disclosure follows repeated assurances by the MoD to Parliament that the Chinooks would come into service.
Boeing had delivered the helicopters to specification in December 2001, but the specifications were so poor they did not allow the aircraft to fly. The National Audit Office said the contract did not specify that the avionics software should be analysed in accordance with UK Defence standards.
The MoD and its air worthiness assessors found that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the avionics software met these standards. Other user requirements categorised as "essential" were not delivered because they too were not included in the contract, according to the National Audit Office, whose report formed the basis of the Public Accounts Committee's questions.
Senior Labour MPs on the Public Accounts Committee urged Tebbit to resign because of this and other expensive fiascos involving the purchase of helicopters for the RAF.
Gerry Steinberg, Labour MP, and a member of the public accounts committee told Tebbit, “Every time you come to us, you tell us it will not happen again but it does happen again.''
Tebbit said he was sorry for the errors but added, "there is nothing I can do to put it right overnight".