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Aircraft (Live Bomb Loads)

Volume 932: debated on Tuesday 24 May 1977

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances RAF aircraft flying over Wales are loaded with live bombs or missiles.

In general, RAF aircraft flying over Wales are not loaded with real or practice ordnance unless they are taking part in weapon training. Then, in most cases, the ordnance will be small practice bombs or inert missiles. When any ordnance is carried over the land it is in a "safe" configuration, and is not made "live" until released within the prescribed range safety area. Stringent safety precautions apply at all times.

Is the Minister aware of the very great concern in Wales arising because of the crash a few weeks ago in a reservoir in Mid-Wales of an aircraft that contained live bombs? Will he say, in view of the considerable amount of training flying over Caernarvon, that in no circumstances will any aircraft carry live bombs or missiles?

We are very mindful of the disturbance caused by training by the Royal Air Force in terms of low flying and so forth. I have assured the hon. Member, and I do so again, that all the weapons carried in our aircraft are in a "safe" condition. In the main they are practice ammunition and every safety precaution is taken. However, I cannot give an undertaking that the RAF will not train to be able to fulfil its wartime rĂ´le, which is the defence of freedom and the defence of the people of Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.