HC Deb 02 February 1966 vol 723 cc1080-1
52. Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in estimating the comparable delivery times of the F111 and the Mirage/Spey, he was allowing for the use of the Elliots nay/attack radar in the British aircraft.

Mr. Millan

No, Sir, but there is no reason to believe that it would have any favourable effect on the delivery time for the Mirage/Spey.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Have the Minister of Aviation and the Minister of Defence for the Royal Air Force examined reports put forward by B.A.C. and Dassault jointly to produce the Mirage/Spey by late 1969, that is to say, by a date comparable with the F111? Is he aware that these planes make provision for British and French electronic equipment, which already is far advanced? Is not the forecast that this Anglo-French plane will be two or three years later than the F111 totally erroneous?

Mr. Millan

Certainly all the reports of B.A.C. have been considered. We consider that the time-scale to which it says it could operate is an extremely optimistic one, particularly in view of our past experience of projects of this complexity.

Mr. Lubbock

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that the Government believe the Americans because it suits their case, but that they do not believe the French and British when it does not?

Mr. Millan

Not at all, because as I have already made clear, no final decision has been taken. I thought it would be common ground that it is extremely dangerous to take optimistic assessments of time-scale from anyone in view of our past experience over the last ten years. I should have thought that this was a lesson that we had all learned to our cost by this time.

Mr. R. Carr

Can the hon. Gentleman give the slightest evidence to suggest that the time estimates for the Mirage/Spey are based on any more optimistic grounds than those for the F111?

Mr. Millan

Certainly. The Mirage/Spey does not exist. At the moment it is simply a paper proposal and there is no such thing. The F111 has already flown.