HC Deb 14 January 1975 vol 884 cc170-1
10. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what will be the quantity of fuel consumed and the cost of keeping one MRCA in the air for one hour on typical training flying.

Mr. William Rodgers

It is too soon to say.

Mr. Bennett

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is unfortunate to be committing ourselves to an order for such an aircraft if we have little idea what the running costs will be? Is he satisfied that we can afford the plane, particularly as the programme will probably cost more than the Channel Tunnel? Even if we can afford to buy it, is my hon. Friend satisfied—as he does not know the cost—that we can keep it in the air to train crews to use it?

Mr. Rodgers

I know the concern which has been expressed by hon. Members about the possible cost of the aircraft, but the best evidence we have is that it will be less expensive from a flying point of view than other aircraft which it will replace. Those who believe that there is an alternative should spell out clearly what it is.

Mr. Kershaw

Will the hon. Gentleman also be able in his calculations to formulate the cost of not having an effective aircraft in the next generation?