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Nimrod Airframes

Volume 122: debated on Tuesday 10 November 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what use is currently being made of the Nimrod airframes.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement
(Mr. Tim Sainsbury)

We are considering a number of possible uses for the Nimrod airborne early warning aircraft. In the meantime they are being held in storage.

Instead of leaving the 11 Nimrod airframes to rot, why does the Secretary of State not convert them for use as maritime surveillance aircraft or, indeed, use them to supplement the five aging and antiquated Shackleton aircraft and so recoup some of the taxpayers' money that has been spent?

We are considering a wide range of possibilities for the aircraft's use. We are anxious to make the right decisions and we are taking time to ensure that we do.

Will my hon. Friend consider much more seriously and urgently the need for more maritime patrol aeroplanes? Is not the greatest threat facing the Supreme Command Atlantic the submarine threat? Is not that threat becoming more sophisticated, with boats that are ever quieter and deeper-diving? Is there not an imperative need to enhance the maritime patrol aircraft availability of our Alliance?

My hon. Friend has made some valid observations about Warsaw pact submarines. The points that he has made will be among those taken into account when we reach our decision on the future of the airframes.