HC Deb 04 February 1970 vol 795 cc413-4
26. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when the Sea King helicopters will become operational.

Mr. John Morris

The first front line squadron of Sea King helicopters will form at the Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose, at the end of this month.

Mr. Wall

From what ships other than aircraft carriers and converted cruisers will the new helicopters be able to operate? Are there any plans for fitting them with early air warning to replace the Gannets when the carriers are phased out?

Mr. Morris

I cannot at present help the hon. Gentleman on the latter part of his question. The first operation squadron will form later this month and the second squadron in June, to embark respectively on the "Ark Royal" and the"Eagle" later this year. The Sea King will also be deployed at sea in the converted Tiger class cruisers and, later, in the new class of cruisers announced in the Statement on Defence Estimates, 1966.

Mr. Robert Howarth

What are the overseas sales prospects for these helicopters?

Mr. Morris

The House is probably aware of the very substantial export order secured from West Germany by Westlands. Several other countries are showing a very strong interest in the Sea King.