§ 21. Mr. Turner
asked the Minister of Aviation how many types of aircraft employ British designed and built vertical take-off engines.
§ Mr. J. Amery
Apart from helicopters, four existing aircraft types are fitted with vertical take-off and landing engines of British design and manufacture—the British SC1 and P1127, the French Balzac and the German VJ101c.
Aircraft under development which will be powered by British lift engines are the P1154, the Mirage III V and the experimental Dornier 31.
§ Mr. Turner
In view of those encouraging facts, and the fact that complete and developed aircraft are the best way of promoting sales, can my right hon. Friend say that every possible stop is being pulled out—to use commercial jargon—to get these aircraft into the air so that customers overseas can see them and, possibly, buy them?
§ Mr. Amery
Yes, indeed. The first four I mentioned are already flying—the SC1, the P1127, the Balzac and the VJ101c. Of these, the SC1, the Balzac and the German aeroplane are predominantly research aircraft. The P1127 could be an operational aircraft. The other three have not yet flown, but these will all feature one or other British vertical take-off techniques. I know of no vertical take-off technique of any other country that is being applied to any particular aeroplane.
§ Mr. Cronin
Would not the export of vertical take-off aircraft have been encouraged if the right hon. Gentleman had not rejected the P1154 in favour of the American Phantom?
§ Mr. Amery
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence has specifically adopted the P1154 for the Royal Air Force. The only question that faced us was whether to develop a second version of the P1154 for the Royal Navy. To have done so would, on our best estimate, have added a formidable bill—over £100 million—to what would have to be spent if we bought from overseas the relatively small number of aircraft required. That is why we have been investigating the possibility of buying the Phantom aircraft from the United States to meet the Royal Navy, as distinct from the Royal Air Force, requirement. Tests on this are still going on, but the Royal Air Force requirement will be met by the P1154.
§ Mr. McMaster
Can my right hon. Friend say what further research and development is being undertaken in this country into the Rolls-Royce multi-jet vertical take-off and landing system? is it not a shame that the "know-how" in this important field should be lost to French and German interests?
§ Mr. Amery
I do not think that the "know-how" is being lost. Apart from the British SC1, the German experimental Dornier 31 is the subject of a joint study which is being undertaken between Hawker Siddeley and Dornier with British engines. Our own view, which must be tentative at the moment, is that the Rolls-Royce concept is better suited to transport aircraft than to combat aircraft, where the minimisation of weight is the most important consideration.