Anglo-French Variable Geometry Aircraft

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th April 1967.

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Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans 12:00 am, 12th April 1967

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has now agreed a specification for the Anglo-French variable geometry aircraft; and how many of these he expects to order for the Royal Air Force.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Technology and I are meeting the French Minister for the Armed Forces next Monday, 17th April, to consider the results of the work done by our officials on the specification of the aircraft. It is too early to take decisions yet on the number of aircraft.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

The right hon. Gentleman has been talking about making decisions about the specification of this aircraft for some time. In view of the uncertainty that exists in the Royal Air Force about even the number of Phantoms which will be at its service, should not the right hon. Gentleman rapidly agree on some figure in respect of the Anglo-French variable geometry aircraft?

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

Certainly not without knowing the cost and other details about the programme. But I have always made it clear to the House that we planned to take decisions on specification in April. That is what we plan to do. The hon. Member ought to remember that.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

Can my right hon. Friend give any estimate of the approximate difference in cost between designing this aircraft purely for an interceptor rôle and for a strike and interceptor rôle?

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

A great deal depends on the precise operation characteristics of the interceptor or strike aircraft. I can say that if this aircraft were designed purely for an interceptor rôle, as now seen, we could accommodate the characteristics required of it as a strike aircraft within that ceiling.

Photo of Mr Stephen Hastings Mr Stephen Hastings , Mid Bedfordshire

Can the Minister tell the House anything about the talks held recently with General Steinhoff, Chief of the German Air Staff, about this aircraft, which were surely relevant to this issue?

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

I think that there is a Question already on the Order Paper about that point.