§ Mr. Critchley
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the eight project areas in which European arms procurement collaboration should be considered, as identified by the Eurogroup Ministers in 1972, namely, (1) an interceptor aircraft for the 1980s, (2) a main battle tank for the 1980s, (3) aircraft approach and landing aids, (4) identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment, (5) battlefield communications, (6) a medium-level surface-to-air guided weapon, (7) air-to-air missiles, and (8) medium artillery, respectively.
§ Mr. Mason
The information is as follows:
- (1) An interceptor aircraft for the 1980s. Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are seeking a common replacement for their F104 aircraft. Development of the MRCA by Britain, Germany and Italy is proceeding well, and preparations for production are being made.
- (2) A main battle tank for the 1980s. Britain and Germany are undertaking concept studies.
- (3) Aircraft approach and landing aids. Efforts to establish a basis for collaboration have so far been unsuccessful.
- (4) Identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment. NATO studies to establish an agreed concept for identification equipment for the long term, as a necessary preliminary to any collaborative action, are well advanced.
- (5) Battlefield communications. Complete agreement has been reached in the Eurogroup on most of the operational and technical parameters to which future tactical trunk communications systems should conform.
- (6) A medium-level surface-to-air guided weapon. Studies of possible improvements to
464 and replacements of existing systems are continuing under NATO auspices.
- (7) Air-to-air missiles. Exchange of information and discussion of national plans and requirements have not so far been productive, but continue with a view to the possibility of co-operation.
- (8) Medium artillery. Collaborative development by Britain, Germany and Italy of the towed (FH70) and self-propelled (SP70) 155mm weapons is proceeding well.
The position in each of these areas is reviewed regularly under Eurogroup auspices, with a view to the possibility of co-operation, or wider co-operation, at an appropriate stage.