It's really about reflecting, maybe too hard, what is seen as the 'news agenda'.
The whole helicopter provisions subject is a hot issue right now.
It seems this is about additional
protection above and beyond what already exists, not about money either, about how many mods can be done versus the need for additional frames out there ASAP.
The MoD favoring a more 'rolling' program, which would include equipment fitted in situ if there was not enough time to do so in the UK.
These crews (if this is true), wanting it all done before deployment.
Merlin's were deployed in Iraq, so mods against sand and self defence kit is not new.
While the environment in Afghanistan is different, being both hot and high, this is where I find the whole story odd.
Except news reports, including MoD statements, name the choppers as the 'Merlin Mk.3s'.
These are the six extra frames brought from the Danes, who then went and ordered replacements for themselves, probably with MoD funding.
These were selected as of all the export utility ones that might be available (meaning from other NATO members), they were the nearest overall to the existing RAF Merlin HC
Since these had both a SAR and utility role with the RDAF and as yet they not deployed them to combat zones, it might just be the work package they have to prep them for Afghanistan will take longer than expected, which clashes with statements by senior members of the government on 'busting a gut to get additional helicopters to Afghanistan'.
That's my take anyway.
It might also be a minor 'barracks revolt' from the RAF rank and file, remember they have had large crew losses from the C-130 downed in Iraq in 2005, which did not, despite a history of urgent requests for self sealing wing fuel tanks.
Then the Nimrod loss, caused mainly by the massive surge in use of the in flight refueling gear hastily fitted during the Falklands, but little used since, until the Afghan conflict, on an aging aircraft.
Or as The Who once sang, we won't get fooled again!
The government are after all, on the defensive with the whole issue of equipment, sometimes unfairly, other times not.