§ Mr. Stephen Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his estimate of the cost-effectiveness of the Britten Norman Defender aircraft; and what steps he is taking to evaluate its suitability in a maritime surveillance role over the 200-mile fishery zone.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
We have not evaluated the Britten Norman Defender aircraft and have no plans to do so. Our choice of aircraft for the surveillance task in an expanded fishery zone was made from aircraft within the RAF's existing 45W inventory. The Nimrod long-range maritime patrol aircraft was considered to offer the best military solution. Pilot schemes undertaken in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food have shown that it is an excellent aircraft for the specialised fisheries surveillance task. Four such Nimrods will become operational from 1st January 1977.