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Vote a. Number for Air Force Service

Part of Orders of the Day — Air Estimates, 1962–63 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 1962.

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Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Preston North 12:00 am, 12th March 1962

We have a good idea from our own and the American aircraft industry of what is possible at present. The hon. Gentleman should also remember that our V-bombers are equipped with the latest electronic counter-measure devices to jam and deceive enemy radar. How does this equation work out as between our defensive power and that of the Soviet Union?

The right hon. Member for Huyton attempted to lay down the law on this matter. He has no responsibility and no information. I can only tell the Committee of the conclusion we have come to, with all the information at our command, and cite, in support, certain evidence.

We have carried out a number of exercises pitting Bomber Command against both the United Kingdom air defences and the much more elaborate air defences of the North American continent. I have carefully studied the results. Of course, the defences will take a toll of the attacking aircraft, but, at present, all the exercises we have undertaken show that enough would get through to inflict unacceptable damage upon their targets. In support of this, I cite a very interesting article by Marshal Savitsky, who is at present in charge of the arm of Soviet air defences concerned, which was published in Red Star on 14th November last.

Marshal Savitsky gave a very realistic assessment of the strength of our bombers, and this is what he wrote: … the Armed Forces of the Imperialist Powers are equipped with very formidable means of attack such as high-speed long-range bombers and stand-off bombs carrying atomic and hydrogen bombs. Not only do these fly at tremendously high speeds and at very great altitudes, but they are unaffected by bad weather. It should also be borne in mind that the enemy will do all in his power to protect himself from counter measures, making extensive use of electronic counter measures. The marshal does not appear to think our V-bombers obsolete or even obsolescent. His article is very critical of Soviet air defences and cites several instances of shortcomings. I hope that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will look up that article. Clearly, the marshal is much less sanguine than the right hon. Member for Huyton about the efficiency of Russian air defences and has a great deal more respect for Bomber Command. Frankly, I am not surprised. He is a professional. He knows what he is talking about—and he would be at the receiving end.