HC Deb 14 February 1968 vol 758 cc1325-6
11. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for expediting the introduction of surface-to-surface weapons before the aircraft carriers, are phased out.

Mr. Mason

We are pressing ahead as rapidly as possible with the plans for developing new tactical ship strike capabilities which I described to the hon. Member on 13th November last.—[Vol. 754, c. 177.]

Mr. Wall

Is the Minister aware that no surface or helicopter-borne weapon has sufficient range at the moment, and that in future the Navy will be at risk against smaller navies armed and equipped with Soviet weapons once the fixed-wing plans are phased out?

Mr. Mason

We recognise the difficulties. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have the AS12 on order. These are air-to surface missiles and we have the possibility of arming new Sea King helicopters with Martel missiles as well.

Mr. Ogden

Helicopters apart, is priority being given in the Naval construction programme for fast missile-carrying small craft capable of dealing with such Styx-type missiles as sank the "Eliat "?

Mr. Mason

A study is taking place, but it is too early to give any details.

Mr. Ramsden

What has happened about the surface-to-surface missile announced as far back as 1966 in connec- tion with the phasing out of the carriers? Has the Minister anything to say about that?

Mr. Mason

If the hon. Gentleman means the Sea Dart, or the extension of Sea Slug, which are surface-to-air antimissile missiles, perhaps he will let me know which one he has in mind.