HC Deb 22 June 1972 vol 839 cc697-8
16. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Minister of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that an adequate supply of experienced pilots is available when the Jaguar comes into operational service with the Royal Air Force.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force (Lord Lambton)

The demand for pilots experienced in the ground attack rôle will increase when the Jaguar comes into service. To ensure an adequate supply of pilots and provide realistic training in an operational environment, two squadrons of Hunters are to be formed in the United Kingdom, beginning later this year. Their prime purpose is training to the high standard required for the Jaguar but the squadrons could, if necessary, undertake operational tasks.

Mr. Wilkinson

Is my noble Friend aware how very much I welcome that statement? Any announcement like this will only bring joy to those in the Royal Air Force, because they will see it as an augmentation of their total spectrum of capability. Where will the squadrons be located and what manpower effects will ensue?

Lord Lambton

Initially the aircraft will be at West Raynham but after completion of certain runway repairs they will go to Wittering, where they will be at the end of September, 1972. Their deployment will involve an increase of about 180 Service personnel at RAF Wittering, although that does not represent an increase in RAF numbers overall.