50. Air Commodore Harvey
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what progress has been made in equipping the Royal Air Force with helicopters; how many of this type of aircraft are now in service; and what will be the major delivery for future machines.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)
We have started forming helicopter squadrons for search and rescue duties in Fighter and Coastal Commands. A squadron of Royal Air Force helicopters is already employed on 377 casualty evacuation duties in the Far East. We also intend to begin forming a flight of search and rescue helicopters in the Middle East Air Force later this year. Other Royal Air Force helicopters are employed on air observation posts duties in co-operation with the Army. In all about 20 helicopters are at present in service with squadrons and they are coming forward in increasing numbers.
Air Commodore Harvey
Can my hon. Friend say how many helicopters go to one squadron? Will he bear in mind that the Fleet Air Arm almost cornered the helicopter market and see that the Air Force get their fair share?
§ Mr. Beswick
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Royal Air Force have yet decided to buy any of the bigger machines?
§ Captain Ryder
Before my hon. Friend starts depriving the Royal Navy of its helicopters, will he make sure that the Royal Navy get something decent in exchange?