I cannot go into details of dates.
A great deal of other matters have been mentioned in this debate. The theme which ran through it, until the right hon. Gentleman introduced this aspect, was broadly one of equipment for the Forces, with particular reference to the Army. The hon. Member for Dudley talked about the need, and rightly so; for rapid dispersal and concentration. What he regarded as being a shortage of aircraft for Army mobility was referred to also by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and by the right hon. Member for Belper. The figures have been quoted often before to show how the lift capacity of Transport Command has been increased since 1951 with the advent of the Beverleys and now with the Britannias coming into service.
In the past few months, as the House is aware, it has been decided to order more transport aircraft. The Britannic is a strategic freighter and the Argosy is a tactical troop transport within a theatre. All these, however, are large aircraft and in general terms it would be neither politic nor economic to use them forward of the Army maintenance area What we must appreciate is that the degree of dispersal which will be forced upon any Army in modern warfare will be such that we must have air mobility, not only in terms of arriving within a theatre, but also on the battlefield itself. It is to meet this need that we must have a vertical take-off aircraft to furnish supplies from the Army maintenance area right up to the brigade areas. It will have to be vertical take-off because it will only be rarely indeed that an airstrip capable of taking fixed-wing aircraft carrying a big load will be available within a brigade area.
We shall also need helicopters to move forces around tactically inside the Army area.