HC Deb 13 April 1960 vol 621 cc1235-7
15. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if it remains Her Majesty's Government's policy to prohibit the possession by Germany of a strategic air force.

22. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the 660 supersonic fighter-bomber aircraft which it is proposed to procure for the German air force are capable of being equipped to deliver missiles against strategic targets within the territories of neighbouring countries, he will call for a further revision of the Brussels Treaty to prevent any such development.

Mr. R. Allan

As I said last week these are tactical aircraft. They are required by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation plans for the common defence. These plans and N.A.T.O. force requirements do not call for the possession by Germany of a strategic air force. And, like all other German operational forces, these aircraft will be under N.A.T.O. control.

Mr. Swingler

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that he is the only person who has commented on this matter who thinks that they are for tactical use? Is he aware that all the air correspondents of the Press who have commented on the 660 supersonic fighter-bombers have said that they are capable of long-range use and therefore they constitute the nucleus of a strategic air force? Is it not simply quibbling to say that they are for tactical use?

Mr. Allan

It is not a quibble at all. These aircraft have a range of about one-third of our V-bomber force, and they could not attack targets in Soviet territory.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Does the hon. Gentleman disagree with the view of the Secretary of State for War, that it is the target which determines whether the use of a weapon is for tactical or strategical purposes? The right hon. Gentleman made that view clear in discussing the Army Estimates last year. Does not the hon. Gentleman take into account also the danger which is being created by the provocative speeches of responsible Ministers in the Bonn Government about the reunification of Germany, if necessary by the use of force? I am talking about people like Seebohm and Oberländer. Does he not have misgivings about putting into the hands of the Germans at this time what in fact appears to every expert committee to be a highly mobile striking force capable of attacking strategic targets deep inside neighbouring countries?

Mr. Allan

A great deal of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is not for me in any event, but if, unhappily, these aircraft were used, they would be used in accordance with SACEUR's tactical plans and no other.

Forward to