Hong Kong (Helicopters)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East 12:00, 3 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence, how many helicopters the Royal Air Force has at Hong Kong; what is their age and serviceability rate; and what proposals he has for replacing them, and when.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

The Royal Air Force has one squadron of Whirlwind Mark 10 helicopters permanently stationed in Hong Kong. It is not customary to disclose the size and operational capabilities of front-line units. There are no plans at present to replace the helicopters with another type.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is well known that these are very old helicopters and the R.A.F. has great difficulty in keeping them flying regularly? Will he look at this again with a view to replacing them very quickly?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

I shall certainly take into account the comment of my hon. Friend, who, I understand, has been out to Hong Kong. Apart from difficulties of serviceability at some time this year, I am not aware of general dissatisfaction with these helicopters.

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm the extremely useful role which helicopters can play in an internal security theatre? Will he take action to see that these helicopters are brought up-to-date as soon as possible?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

Yes, Sir. Helicopters perform a very useful réle in the operations in Hong Kong.