Fcuk me.... perhaps someone has grown a set of balls at last in Main Building... or has that letter writing genius finally got the message? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8353361.stm Plans to fast-track a large order of Chinook transport helicopters for Afghanistan are being examined by the government, the BBC understands. A decision could be made before the Pre-Budget Report, which is expected within a month, BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said. The government has been severely criticised over the shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence said it was looking at future helicopter plans. However, it added that it would not comment on speculation. Two Chinooks have had to be destroyed this year, although the Treasury is expected to approve funding for their replacements soon. The government has come under heavy pressure in recent months over the number of heavy-lift helicopters in Helmand - an issue which has become politically highly sensitive for Gordon Brown. Conservative leader David Cameron has previously called the shortage "a scandal". Although the prime minister has long insisted British troops have enough helicopters for current operations, defence chiefs and Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth have made clear they were doing all they could to get more helicopters to British forces in Afghanistan. Budget restrictions The MoD has been looking at its future helicopter strategy, and although no final decision has been made, it is understood that one option which may find favour is purchasing up to 20 more Chinooks from Boeing over the next five to 10 years, BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said. A number of those would then be fast-tracked to make them available in Helmand within a year or two. The heavy-lift helicopters are vital to operations in Helmand. Currently, the UK has up to 10 Chinooks in Helmand, with several Merlin helicopters which were used in Iraq deploying there soon. Another eight Chinook Mk3 helicopters from an earlier botched procurement should become available for training by the end of this year, with some of those ready to be sent to Helmand from next summer. However, with budgets at the MoD under severe strain, it is not yet clear what might have to be cut in order to fund the potential purchase. It could be the Future Medium Helicopter programme, which was intended to replace the UK's ageing Sea King and Puma fleets. The MoD has previously confirmed it had twice in the past three years been offered a deal to purchase US-made Sikorsky helicopters for the armed forces, but decided to press ahead instead with plans involving British firms.