V/STOL Aircraft

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1972.

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Photo of Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles , Winchester 12:00 am, 20th April 1972

asked the Minister of State for Defence when he expects to complete his study of the relative effectiveness of designing a new V/STOL aircraft for use at sea, as compared with development of the capability of the existing Harrier.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the development of a super-Harrier for naval service.

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

I have nothing to add to what my hon. Friend the Undersecretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy said on 10th April.—[Vol. 834, c. 866–7.]

Photo of Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles , Winchester

Does my hon. Friend really appreciate the urgency that attaches to solving this question? Does he also appreciate that without aircraft of this type and ships from which to fly them the Royal Navy will be quite unable to carry out its traditional and foremost task of protecting our overseas trade routes?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

We are well aware of the urgency of this matter but, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, there are a number of conflicting matters which have to be taken into account, and conflicting projects, and there is no point in rushing this matter. It is very important to get it right.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Will my hon. Friend explain why the makers of this aircraft maintain that it is suitable for maritime purposes and the Government maintain the opposite? What modifications need to be made to the existing Harrier, and how long would they take to make it suitable for naval operation?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

What we have said all along is that the operational capability of the Harrier—that is, its weapons and other systems—must be developed if it is to perform effectively as a fighting aircraft in a maritime rôle. As my hon. Friend knows, we are considering whether the present Harrier should be given a better performance, whether another aircraft should be designed or whether either aircraft is needed for the cruiser.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles , Winchester

In view of the continually unsatisfactory nature of replies on this subject, I beg to give notice that I shall seek an early opportunity of raising the matter on the Adjournment.