HC Deb 20 November 1973 vol 864 cc1113-5
12. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he is satisfied that Her Majesty's Forces are equipped with the latest radar computer-controlled ground-to-ground and ground-to-air missiles, comparable with those used in the recent Middle East war; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Our forces have a range of modern missiles well suited to their needs and there are further missiles in prospect. We are studying the lessons that are to be learned from the Middle East war, which will, of course, be a complex exercise.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the lessons which have been learned by our forces from the Middle East war is that the Russian-manufactured missile guidance systems are infinitely more sophisticated than those of our forces? What study of those missile guidance systems is being carried out by our forces? Has my right hon. Friend sufficient funds to be able to develop whatever comes out of those studies?

Mr. Gilmour

I do not accept that the Russian missiles are necessarily better than ours. Some of them may be more modern, but others are not. It is a very complex question. We must study the differences of terrain, manpower and battle philosophies, and, therefore, it is impossible to reach a definite conclusion very quickly.

Mr. Paget

Will the Minister express some gratitude to Israel for the fact that we now have an opportunity to examine the weapons in detail, although we did little to earn it?

Mr. Gilmour

We always welcome an opportunity to examine as many weapons as we can.

Mr. Churchill

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he gave a very complacent reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins)? What steps are being taken to provide every platoon in the British Army with missiles which would enable it to destroy tanks and aircraft effectively?

Mr. Gilmour

As my hon. Friend probably knows, there are a number of weapons which we have not only in research and development but in production and under issue. If he can draw very quick and certain conclusions already from the Middle East war, I envy him his certainty, but I do not share it.

Mr. Rose

Has the Minister studied the spectacular success of the Gabriel missile in naval warfare? Will he try to arrange to import missiles of that type, but will he ask the Israeli Government not to include a provision that if we should need them they will no longer continue supplying them?

Mr. Gilmour

I dealt with the hon. Gentleman's question a little earlier. The efficacy of the Gabriel missile is one of many things we shall be studying.

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