HC Deb 03 August 1966 vol 733 cc451-2
19. Mr. James Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when the first F111 aircraft purchased for the Royal Air Force will become operational; where they will be based; and in what rôle they will be used.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The first F111 aircraft in the Royal Air Force will become operational early in 1969 and will be based in this country. As my right hon. Friend has often made clear, the rôle of the F111 will be to replace the Canberra as a tactical strike/reconnaissance aircraft.

Mr. Davidson

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, as the offset agreement with the United States has proved to be one-sided, and as the future rôle of this aircraft is entirely hypothetical and its cost enormous, in view of the country's present economic state, we should seek agreement with the United States allowing us to be released from our obligation to purchase it?

Mr. Rees

The hon. Gentleman is wrong about the offset agreement, and he is wrong about the aircraft's future rôle which is most important.