HC Deb 27 July 1979 vol 971 cc509-10W
Mr. Kimball

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress he has made in considering ways of improving the air defences of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Pattie

Good progress. Already we have identified important ways to increase the capability of our air defence forces in the shorter term. First, we have decided to modify a substantial number of our Hawk training aircraft to carry air-to-air missiles so that they can back up the specialist fighters in an emergency. Secondly, we plan to enhance the effectiveness of our Phantom fighters by improving the weapon control system. Thirdly, we have decided to form an additional squadron of Lightning aircraft.

These improvements to our air defence capability are in addition to an extensive range of enhancements already in hand or planned. They have the common feature of making the best use of existing resources; and this is an important aspect of our continuing examination of other possible improvements.

Looking further ahead, we have taken an important step in our plans to replace the Bloodhound surface-to-air missile system by signing a memorandum of understanding to undertake collaborative studies with the Governments of France and Germany into a future ground-to-air missile system.