HC Deb 21 October 1971 vol 823 cc882-3
20. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will now make a statement on the trials of Harrier aircraft embarked at sea, and on his future plans for the deployment of these aircraft with ships of the fleet.

Mr. Kirk

Our studies, and the evaluations of recent trials, continue. No decision has yet been taken on the purchase of Harrier aircraft for maritime use. The House will be informed as soon as firm decisions have been taken.

Mr. Wilkinson

With respect to my hon. Friend, these evaluations and studies have gone on for many years All the while Soviet sea power round our coasts is growing and is visible to the eye. In these circumstances, will he expedite plans to get fixed-wing V/STOL air power to sea to follow the carriers as soon as possible?

Mr. Kirk

We are pressing ahead as fast as we can, but, as I have said in the House before, there is no point in going ahead until we are absolutely certain that this aircraft will do the job that we want it to do.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Does it not seem strange to my hon. Friend that the Americans seem able to make evaluations for their Navy quicker than we can for the Royal Navy? Cannot he pull somebody's finger out?

Mr. Kirk

The Americans are no further ahead in their evaluations than we are.

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