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Vertical Take-Off Aircraft

Volume 649: debated on Monday 20 November 1961

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asked the Minister of Aviation what orders he has placed for British vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

Limited orders have so far been placed for research and development purposes.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in this development we are way ahead of the rest of the world and that in all probability it will be adopted by N.A.T.O.? Does he not think that it is therefore worth while placing firm orders with our manufacturers for this machine so as to give R.A.F. personnel a chance of becoming acquainted with its operational utilisation, and also to stimulate the industry at a time when it needs it very badly?

I agree with the hon. Member that we are ahead of any other country in this development, but, as I informed him in an earlier reply, it is our intention to seek to develop the P.1127, which is a light reconnaissance vertical take-off aircraft, and we are hoping to do so in conjunction with the Germans. Discussions to that end are now going on.

Can my right hon. Friend say what steps he is taking to promote further research and development into the Short S.C.1 system for V.T.O.L. aircraft?

In the case of that aircraft, the Rolls-Royce vertical lift engine is being jointly developed by ourselves, the Germans and the French. It is just the typical joint development which makes sense in this type of project.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that while it may be right to make a joint development of this aircraft, vertical take-off aircraft are probably to be N.A.T.O.'s most important requirement of any type of aircraft? Will he pay great attention to this crucially important matter for the whole British industry?

Yes, Sir, certainly. I share the right hon. Gentleman's view. I think that we are in a leading position, and I shall certainly do my best to see that we maintain it.