Fighter Aircraft (Army Co-operation).

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Air Force. – in the House of Commons on 9th July 1942.

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Photo of Sir James Henderson-Stewart Sir James Henderson-Stewart , Fife Eastern

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that it has been officially announced that the primary task of our fighter aircraft is to engage the enemy in the air and that low-flying attack on enemy columns is only a secondary role; whether this policy is now adopted in all theatres of war; and what steps are taken to ensure effective support to the Army in attacking or defending itself against enemy forces and armoured vehicles on the ground?

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

It is common doctrine agreed between the Air Staff and the General Staff that the primary role of fighter aircraft in support of the Army in any theatre of war is to secure that degree of air superiority without which continuous and effective attack on enemy columns is impossible. With regard to the last part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the already published details of R.A.F. activity in the present campaign in Libya.

Mr. Stewart:

Is it not clear from our experience in Libya that until the Air Force regard it as its primary rôle, or at any rate equal with its primary rôle, to destroy armoured vehicles on the ground, as it has been doing so magnificently in the last 10 days, we are not going to win battles?

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

I do not think I can add to what the Prime Minister said in the House as to the directions given some time ago on this particular matter.