HC Deb 16 November 1960 vol 630 cc367-8
22. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of defence what defence rôle the T.S.R.2 aircraft is intended to fill.

Mr. Watkinson

The T.S.R.2 is intended, first, for tactical strike, including attack with nuclear weapons, and, second, for reconnaissance, including battlefield surveillance. It will also be possible to use it in the strategic rôle.

Mr. Hall

Can my right hon. Friend give us any idea when we are likely to see this aircraft in squadron use?

Mr. Watkinson

The firms concerned and the Ministry of Aviation set out a fairly clear programme of the progress of this weapon system, and I think that I am right in saying that the first aircraft will come forward for test and flying purposes about the mid-'sixties.

Mr. Mason

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House what is the estimated cost of the development of the T.S.R.2 and how much would have been saved if the Royal Air Force had accepted a modified version of the NA39?

Mr. Watkinson

The question of cost must be put down to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation. With regard to comparison with the NA39, these two aircraft were designed in different time scales and for quite different purposes.

Mr. G. Brown

The Minister has not answered his hon. Friend's supplementary question. Will he try again? By what date does he think that this aeroplane will be in squadron service? Does he think that it will be before 1970—in other words, before it is out of date?

Mr. Watkinson

Yes, I do.