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Raf Strike Command

Volume 890: debated on Monday 14 April 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the planned introduction of Phantoms instead of Lightnings will now lead to a numerical reduction in the front-line fighter strength of the RAF; whether all the Lightning squadrons including that recently withdrawn from Cyprus are to be replaced by an equivalent number of Phantom squadrons; and when the last Lightning fighters are to be withdrawn from service.

There are at present seven fighter squadrons in Strike Command, including the Lightning squadron recently withdrawn from Cyprus. Four are equipped with Lightnings and three with Phantoms. There are also two Lightning squadrons in Germany which we plan to re-equip with Phantoms. Decisions on the precise date when the Lightning will be withdrawn from front-line service or on the exact number of Lightning and Phantom squadrons respectively which will be maintained until that date do not yet need to be taken.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the recent designation of the Commander in Chief of RAF Strike Command as a NATO commander will result in the establishment in the United Kingdom of a headquarters partly manned by personnel of other countries; and, if so, whether this headquarters will be responsible for the air defence of Great Britain and whether it may contain in its staff Portuguese personnel.

The closer integration of the Commander in Chief Strike Command into the NATO Command structure as CinCUKAIR will not result in the establishment of any new headquarters in the United Kingdom, nor are there any proposals for the partial manning of the existing Headquarters Strike Command by personnel from other countries. There is no change in the Commander in Chief's existing responsibilities for the air defence of Great Britain.