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Sea Wolf

Volume 24: debated on Tuesday 25 May 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will take steps to accelerate the introduction of Sea Wolf or other means of point defence of Royal Navy vessels against sea skimming missiles and substantially increase the number of vessels to which such systems will be fitted.

As I have already indicated, we plan to fit Sea Wolf to all type 22 frigates on construction and to five Leanders at refit. The fitting of point defence systems to other classes of ship is a matter for further consideration.

Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that the Soviet Union—our principal potential enemy in the North Atlantic—does not possess a sea skimming missile and that adequate defences against such missiles will be available before the Soviet Union can develop them? Is it not necessary to consider the whole question of air defence? Many of the casualties have resulted from attacks by high performance aircraft dropping very old-fashioned dumb bombs. Does my hon. Friend agree that we should consider the whole question of air defence for the Navy?

There will be a need to consider all aspects of the operations after they have been satisfactorily concluded. I agree that when the Falkland episode is over the Soviet Union will still remain the main threat. I confirm that the Soviet Union lacks that type of sea skimming missile.

Have the Government yet placed orders with British industry for replacing the ships and aircraft that have been lost?