This is the first time this has come to my attention. As you know my posts are usually about the army. I have worked with all the services in the past and I can only say the RAF were the most uncooperative.
I will do a post to draw attention to yours Richard as it deserves one.
S - thanks
The situation is far worse than can be imagined. As far as the Defence Chiefs were concerned, Afghanistan was seen primarily as a way of leveraging new kit out of the government, opening up the Treasury purse-strings. Jackson and then Dannatt were in it up to their arm-pits, the latter keeping shtum because he wanted his Lynxes, and thus did not want to rock the boat, otherwise the RAF might have gone for the Blackhawk and taken his toys off him. Basically, the Faustian deal was that the RAF wanted a new Merlin squadron, which would be scuppered if the contractors did the job. If Dannatt supported the contractors, and blocked the Merlins, then the RAF would switch tack and go for the Blackhawks, which would be over the limit for AAC operation, but perform the function of the Lynxes, so the RAF would get the AAC (Hoovering up the Apaches), and Dannatt wouldn't get his new toys. That brought in the Navy, because without the Army getting Lynxes, their's were unaffordable, so they joined the gang to block the ministerial initiative to bring more capacity into theatre.
The RAF got its new squadron of Merlins and then turned round to the Minister and said they could not support them in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and therefore would send some "spare" Sea Kings to AFG, keeping the Merlins back at Benson where they could play with them. Then, despite having had the Merlins factory converted to RAF standard, as ops wound down in Iraq, increasingly impatient minsters started demanding that the Merlins were re-tasked to AFG, whereupon the RAF "discovered" that the Merlins were not theatre-ready and needed more conversions (and money) for them to operate in that theatre, even though they had been bought specifically to go into AFG. Then, because the Danish ships were fitted differently from the rest of the fleet, ALL Merlin aircrew had to be type certified on the Danish ships, in addition to the rest, which meant that the ships could not be sent to AFG, because they were needed for ... training. When they seemed to have run completely out of excuses, it was then that they decided there were not enough parking spaces in AFG.
So it is that nearly three years after ministers told the RAF to "sort" the helicopter problem, the Merlins are finally going into Afghanistan, at £31 million each, compared with the £4-5 million each cost of Mi-17s bought new (of which the RAF bought 6, second-hand but didn't tell anyone about ... to fill the gap until the Merlins got there), publicly saying that the Mi-17s were "unsuitable".