HC Deb 26 November 1970 vol 807 cc585-6
1. Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of State for Defence what plans he has to equip ships of the Royal Navy with a medium range surface-to-surface missile, having regard to the short range of the proposed Exocet missile.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Peter Kirk)

Exocet is an horizon-range weapon which will exploit fully the detection and control capabilities of our surface ships and will be an effective counter to ships deploying similar weapons. There are no present plans to introduce a longer-range surface-to-surface missile for the Royal Navy.

Mr. Cronin

Is the Minister aware that the Soviet Union has in service now eight cruisers equipped with surface-to-surface weapons with a range of about 200 miles, which is many times the range of Exocet? Is any effective countermeasure being taken against this threat?

Mr. Kirk

We have always planned to meet the longer-range threat by other means, such as nuclear fleet submarines and aircraft deployed from ships. We believe that this will be a more satisfactory way of dealing with the long-range threat.

Dr. David Owen

Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that, before making the final decision to go for the Exocet system, he has looked at the possibility of adapting the Sea Dart missile to be carried on small ships?

Mr. Kirk

Yes, I have looked at that. We have decided that Exocet is better, and we are negotiating with the French.

Back to