HC Deb 27 November 1968 vol 774 cc469-70
1. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Technology what plans he has for initiating a new British combat aircraft.

22. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Minister of Technology what discussions he has held with German Ministers on a replacement for the F104.

56. Mr. Corfield

asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the present position of negotiations for the development of an advanced combat aircraft in co-operation with certain other European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Technology (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu)

As a result of further discussions with the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands on the possibility of collaborating in the development of a multi-role comlaat aircraft, a feasibility study is now being carried out by industry.

Mr. Hastings

Can the Minister assure the House that there is now a definitive aircraft, or are we still discussing which of several different concepts to adopt? Can he also assure us that there will be no question on this occasion, given our experience in this field, of giving design leadership to another country?

Mr. Mallalieu

The project is not at the definitive stage yet. We are still trying to match requirements. I very much hope that the design leadership will rest in British hands.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the Minister giving a holding contract to B.A.C. Wharton to continue with its independent work, pending an agreement with the Germans? How long can this situation be allowed to continue?

Mr. Mallalieu

I hope not for very much longer.

Mr. Corfield

Returning to the question of design leadership, will the Minister impress on the Foreign Ministers concerned that as we are the only country with an aircraft industry capable of design leadership it is in their interests as well as ours that our design leadership should be accepted?

Mr. Mallalieu

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that has been done.

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