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Hawkswing Anti-Tank Missile

Volume 892: debated on Tuesday 13 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he proposes to equip the British Army with the Hawk-swing anti-tank missile.

Does the Minister agree that there is a tremendous potential in export markets for the Hawkswing allied to Lynx helicopters, as there is for the Sea Skua weapons system? Does he agree that the Hawkswing is far superior to the French rival system Hot? Would it not be a good idea for the British Army to place its order for Hawkswing so that we can look would-be purchasers in the eye when we are asked why we have not ordered it for our own purposes?

I agree about the export potential for Hawkswing. I do not want to enter into an argument about the competitive merits of different systems. Our concern must be, bearing in mind our operational needs, to buy the right weapons at the right time and at the right price. These are the considerations which must govern any decisions we make.

Does the Minister agree that it is important that a decision should be made? Is he aware that the general impression of those in the field who know is certainly in favour of Milan?

I do not think that the hon. Member's supplementary question is directly related to the options on this Question. I agree, however, that we must make the decisions as soon as possible bearing in mind all the considerations I have set out, and, of course, and very properly, the consequences for our industry of a whole series of decisions which are pending.