Army and Air Force (Aircraft)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Lincoln 12:00 am, 16th November 1960

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is satisfied with the weight limit division of responsibility between the Army and the Royal Air Force for aircraft operation, in view of the development of steep-take-off aircraft.

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

As my predecessor indicated in his reply given on 3rd June, 1959, the weight limit is not rigidly interpreted.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Lincoln

Is there not now grave danger that the weight limit having been set when conventional aircraft were being dealt with, however vaguely the definition is interpreted, the Army will be encouraged to rely on obsolete aircraft in spite of these new developments in order to keep safely on the side of the division?

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

I do not think so. That is why I do not want to make a rigid division. If we were to do so, it would encourage that tendency. I am anxious that the Army should have the right modern type of aircraft for its needs. I think we shall get it better if we do not make a rigid weight limit division.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Lincoln

asked the Minister of Defence what he is doing to improve the co-ordination of the requirements of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force for aircraft.

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

Machinery exists in the Ministry of Defence to ensure that when either Service is considering the need for a new type of aircraft of a kind which both use, the requirement is examined to see whether the needs of both Services can be met by a single basic type. In the case of some helicopters this has been achieved, and we are trying to apply the principle generally.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Lincoln

Is the Minister aware that there has been great difficulty in finding overseas buyers for the NA39 and that if it had been possible to co-ordinate the requirements of the two Services for this aircraft, we might well have had a profitable export trade in it to our N.A.T.O. allies?

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

I am not sure that those are the reasons why certain N.A.T.O. countries have decided that the NA39 does not meet their needs. It is a great pity that that is so, but I do not think that it has anything to do with the possible amalgamation of an R.A.F. and a naval type of aircraft.