HC Deb 11 March 1968 vol 760 cc969-70
48. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Minister of Technology if he will state the total research development and engineering costs hitherto of fitting the Spey Engine into British Phantom aircraft; and how many Phantoms have already been fitted and adapted with Spey Engines.

Mr. Fowler

About £75 million. This includes the cost of developing the Phantom Spey engine and also of the necessary modifications to the Phantom airframe. About 16 Phantoms out of the total of 170 on order have so far been equippped with Spey engines.

Mr. Dalyell

Is it or is not not a fact that the readaptation of the Rolls-Royce Spey engine to the American airframe has added about £1 million to the unit cost per Phantom, from £1.5 million to £2.5 million? What conclusion do the Government draw about the difficulties of adapting a British engine to an airframe for which it was never intended, even thought it may appear to save money across the exchanges?

Mr. Fowler

We were aware at the outset that to incorporate the Spey Engine into the Phantom would be expensive and might lead to difficulties. However, the decision to fit the Spey into the naval Phantoms was taken because the performance of the Spey engine was thought to be better than the American engine. This higher performance is necessary because of the use of Phantoms from carriers; and the House must bear in mind the important contribution to the industry which is being made by the use of the Rolls-Royce Spey engine.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that workers in the British aircraft industry get very upset by the continued knocking of British aircraft and aero engines by certain hon. Members of this House? Is he aware that the fitting of the Spey engine into the Phantom aircraft has led to a considerable improvement in this aircraft's performance, which has made the Phantom not only more suitable to the needs of the British Forces but has also made it more readily saleable to air forces overseas?

Mr. Fowler

I can certainly confirm that the fitting of the Spey engine improves the performance of the Phantom in certain respects. I am glad to say that a suitable standard of engine has now been achieved for installation into the production aircraft; and, of course, it is of great advantage to the British aero engine industry to have the contract for the engines for the Phantom order.

Mr. Shinwell

Am I to understand from what has been said that the adaptation of the Spey engine hat meant that the cost has increased by 100 per cent.? If so, should not this be questioned in the House, even if the Liberal Party objects?

Mr. Fowler

I am sure that if that were the case it would be a matter which would be questioned in the House. But I do not quite follow the details of my right hon. Friend's arithmetic.