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Cruise Missiles

Volume 986: debated on Friday 20 June 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what number of United States Air Force personnel will be involved in operation of cruise missiles in the United Kingdom ; and if he is satisfied that such personnel will be of adequate experience and educational ability.

The total number of United States Air Force personnel who will be involved in the operation of missiles will be about 1,950. The selection of these personnel is, of course, a matter for the USAF, but I am confident that they will be of the same high calibre as those American Service men already stationed in this country.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements exist to service cruise missiles installed in the United Kingdom.

All maintenance and servicing of these missiles will be carried out by United States personnel.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if any road improvements are being planned to facilitate dispersal of cruise missiles ; and, if so, at what cost.

This is a matter which we shall be discussing with the local authorities concerned.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) to how many sites cruise missiles will be dispersed ; if nuclear warheads will be available at all sites ; and, if so, what precautions will be taken to prevent radioactive leakage or misfiring;(2) what safeguards are proposed when cruise missiles are moved from site to site ; and whether guards will be provided by the police or the United States Air Force.

As I have already informed the House, the missile flights will only be deployed away from their bases in peacetime for training purposes, when they will use dummy missiles. When dispersed in time of tension or war they would do so with their warheads already fitted, to sites which do not have to be prepared in advance.It would not be in the public interest to give details of the precise security or safety arrangements affecting operational deployments but, as I have already made clear, the most stringent safeguards will be taken at all times.