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Airborne Early Warning System

Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in view of the interoperability of the Nimrod airborne early warning system and the Boeing airborne warning and control system, he will seek to purchase the former to meet Great Britain's defence needs.

The United Kingdom continues to support the concept of a single NATO force of AEW aircraft based on the Boeing E3A AWACS aircraft modified for NATO conditions, though our allies are well aware that final decisions on it must be taken soon. In the event that establishment of such a force did not prove practicable, the United Kingdom could meet its AEW requirement using the Nimrod AEW aircraft. Such an aircraft would be inter-operable with any Boeing E3A aircraft that were operated in the NATO area.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will inspect the recently rolled out Nimrod AEW at Woodford.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will state the date of last deliveries that would apply in the case of the purchase of the Boeing AWACS and Nimrod AEW, respectively.

I cannot disclose the details requested as discussions are still continuing.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what would be the relative unit costs of purchasing the American Boeing AWACS and the British Nimrod AEW, respectively, assuming an operational need of 11, on the basis of the latest figures provided by Boeing and Hawker Siddeley; and what proportion of these costs would be in foreign currency.

I regret that I cannot provide these cost comparisons and details since financial and other aspects of the Boeing AWACS are still being examined by NATO.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what changes there have been in unit cost for the Boeing AWACS since original estimates taking into account both revised estimates and the lower value of the £ sterling in relation to the dollar.

The estimated cost of a NATO force of Boeing E3A AWACS and the United Kingdom share of those costs have been kept under continuous review to take account of changes in the programme, the offset work in Europe and Canada and the fluctuations in the value of currencies. Since the programme is still under review in NATO, I am unable to provide details of cost changes.