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Volume 645: debated on Wednesday 26 July 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for Air what version of Skybolt has been ordered for the Royal Air Farce, in view of the fact that the United States Government have already produced a surface-to-air missile capable of intercepting a weapon with the performance of Skybolt Mark 1.

Only one version of the Skybolt is at present being made. We are ordering this, as is the United States Air Force. We know of no developments in anti-missile defence which give reason to suppose that Skybolt will not remain a valid deterrent throughout the 1960s.

Is the Secretary of State prepared to deny the American claim to have developed a surface-to-air missile capable of intercepting?

The hon. Member would have to study very carefully, as we will have to study, the capability of any antimissile defence system. So far there is not even a proving test taking place, and certainly no test against Skybolt, which has not yet been perfected and built. Although plainly there are all sorts of Possibilities in anti-missile defence, we do not believe that anything sufficiently effective can be devised in the decade ahead to prevent Skybolt continuing as an effective deterrent for ourselves and the United States Air Force.