HC Deb 02 November 1955 vol 545 c1011
28. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when he expects to have guided missiles in operational use in the Royal Air Force.

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)

I am afraid I cannot reveal this information, but good progress continues to be made in developing both surface-to-air and air-to-air guided missiles.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that it is only a year since the Army's Anti-Aircraft Command was wound up and its functions handed over to the Royal Air Force? Surely he will say something better than he has just said about our guided missiles service?

Mr. Ward

I did point out, during a debate upon the Adjournment before we rose for the Summer Recess, that it was a mistake to regard these missiles as substitutes for anti-aircraft guns. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will realise that we cannot bring these missiles into use until we have carried out full tests—which we are doing; hundreds of rounds have been fired—and until we are quite satisfied that the whole system will fit our long-term needs.

Mr. Strachey

Would not the Under-Secretary agree that the real lesson of the recent exercises was that these missiles really provide the only hope of effective interception of high-level four-engined bombers?

Mr. Ward

No, Sir. They should be regarded as an integral part of our fighter defence, together with manned fighters.

Mr. Burden

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the Hunter has now proved itself to be by far the best interceptor in operational service in the world today?

Mr. Ward

It is certainly a very fine manned interceptor fighter.