HC Deb 15 July 1971 vol 821 cc707-8
18. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the progress of the multi-rôle combat aircraft programme.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

In accordance with arrangements agreed last year, we are now, with our partners, engaged in a review of progress of the development programme.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my hon. Friend ensure that external political pressures are not brought to bear on this project which is of such vital military, industrial and technical significance for British and European defences ; and will he assure the House that the purchase by the Luftwaffe of 200 F4 Phantoms in no way changes its intention to buy a significant number of M.R.CAs.?

Mr. Gilmour

I do not quite know what my hon. Friend means by "external political pressures", but this programme is extremely important. There is no reason to believe that the German Air Force has changed its mind about this programme.

Mr. Dalyell

Is not the estimated unit cost of the M.R.C.A. now above £3 million?

Mr. Gilmour

Any costs which have been estimated apply only to the early development phase, so that information is not available.