HC Deb 25 November 1971 vol 826 cc417-8W
25. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of State for Defence what plans are now being made to equip the Fleet with vertical and short take-off and landing aircraft.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

The Harrier trials in H.M.S. "Ark Royal" last May went smoothly, and confirmed that VSTOL aircraft can be safely and effectively operated from a deck; and that there are no technical or logistic reasons why VSTOL aircraft should not be considered suitable for deployment at sea. These trials enabled proposals to be made for the development of the Harrier's operational capability for such purposes These are now being studied in relation to timing and cost, and to other priorities. We are pressing ahead with this study but a good deal still remains to be done before any decision can be taken about equipping the Fleet with VSTOL aircraft.