HC Deb 11 May 1960 vol 623 cc397-8
22. Sir T. Moore

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many Prestwick aircraft were used in connection with the exercise Starlight recently held in North Africa; and whether he is satisfied as to their general efficiency.

Mr. Ward

Six single-engined and two Twin Pioneers took part in Exercise Starlight. They performed the tasks allotted to them very satisfactorily.

Sir T. Moore

While I am grateful, I am not surprised by that reply. Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have received information from an officer who took part in this exercise saying that these machines gave outstanding service during the course of the operation? That being the case, will not my right hon. Friend consider ordering more of these machines for use in the Royal Air Force?

Mr. Ward

I agree that they have given excellent service, and we have just ordered three more. However, frankly, I do not foresee the need for further Pioneers for the Royal Air Force because, although we are expanding our short-range transport force, we are bringing in rather different types of aircraft, as my hon. Friend knows, such as the Rotodyne and the new helicopters.

Mr. de Freitas

Is it not a fact that, whereas some of the small conventional aircraft are air-transportable, the Rotodyne is not so transportable? Is not that an important consideration?

Mr. Ward

The Rotodyne is "ferry-able", if that is a word.

Mr. Brockway

Will the right hon. Gentleman say over what territories this exercise took place and whether the consent of the Governments of those territories was secured for this purpose?

Mr. Ward

I do not think that that arises out of this Question.