asked the Minister of Aviation what progress has now been made with the production of the Belfast strategic freighter aircraft; whether he is satisfied that the number on order is sufficient to meet all foreseeable needs for the next five years; and what plans he has beyond this to meet the Army's heavy freight-carrying aircraft requirements.
Production of the Belfast aircraft is proceeding in accordance with the programme agreed with Air Ministry. The aircraft made a very successful first flight on 5th January. Since then intensive development flying has continued. As regards further Service requirements for the Belfast or other heavy freight-carrying aircraft, I have nothing to add to the Answer given to the hon. and learned Member for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham) by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on 4th January.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. In view of recent events in Cyprus and East Africa and the threat in the Far East, and also of the recommendation of the Estimates Committee on transport aircraft, may I ask whether he is satisfied that we are planning far enough ahead to be sure of a proper supply of these aircraft to meet our defence requirements in the coming years?