YEOVIL MP David Laws is furious that a senior Tory MP has suggested that a crucial £1-billion order for the Future Lynx helicopters should be scrapped.

Conservative MP Douglas Carswell has suggested on his "blog" today that the Ministry of Defence should scrap the Future Lynx helicopter and by a Sikorsky helicopter instead.

Mr Carswell campaigned for the Future Lynx contract to be scrapped last year, when the Ministry of Defence was said to be giving this serious consideration.

But after a campaign by Mr Laws, the Westland unions and others, the Defence Secretary John Hutton came to Yeovil in December 2008 to confirm that the contract would go-ahead.

The Future Lynx contract has been controversial politically ever since Tory defence spokesman Gerald Howarth tried to stop it from going ahead before the 2005 General Election, saying that he would refer the order to the National Audit Office.

Now Mr Laws has stormed: "I am furious that once again this senior Conservative MP is trying to sabotage the crucial £1bn contract for the Future Lynx helicopter – now to be known as Wildcat.

"It would a disaster for both the armed forces and for South Somerset if there was any attempt to stop Future Lynx from proceeding.

“It is essential that Future Lynx goes ahead, to replace the existing fleet of Army and Navy Lynx helicopters.

"The Conservatives just do not appear to understand that we need both Future Lynx and a medium lift helicopter – and in my view this should be the British Merlin helicopter.

“It would be madness for the Ministry of Defence to think again on Future Lynx, and it would cause yet more uncertainty and delay.

"This project is already well advanced in Yeovil, and when Future Lynx/Wildcat is delivered it will lead to a big improvement in helicopter capability.

“We have to find the money to meet all of our helicopter needs, and we should be focusing on reducing the number of helicopter types in service, instead of buying Blackhawk helicopters, as the Conservatives are suggesting."

Mr Laws added: “We should in my view concentrate on four main helicopter types – Apache for ground attack; Future Lynx/Wildcat for naval operations, light transport and reconnaissance; Merlin for the Future Medium Helicopter; and Chinook for heavy lift.

“We should be focusing now on securing extra money from the Defence Budget to buy more Merlins and Chinooks, rather than questioning the much needed Future Lynx/Wildcat.”