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Defence under Thatcher by Andrew M. Dorman (auth.)

By Andrew M. Dorman (auth.)

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If these Hawk aircraft were equipped as reserve fighters then the government would also be able to highlight its commitment to Britain’s air defences. Having criticized the state of Britain’s air defences the Conservatives sought rapid measures to improve the situation. 195 These included equipping part of the Hawk training fleet with air-to-air missiles as a means of increasing the fighter strength in the short term. This not only gave these aircraft a wartime role and the government the means to show its commitment to defence, it also had a long-term implication.

117 Improvements to Soviet mechanized forces also highlighted weaknesses in the existing artillery force. A major replacement programme was already underway. The heavier 155 mm FH-70 howitzer had begun to replace the 105 mm light gun in those regiments committed to the reinforcement of the BAOR. In the medium term it was planned to rectify the lack of firepower provided by the 105 mm Abbot selfpropelled gun by replacing it with the collaborative SP-70 under development with West Germany and Italy.

148 The expe- British Defence Policy in May 1979 29 rience of industries associated with the army’s programme were mixed. The FH-70 artillery programme had been a success and it was hoped that this success would be transferred into the SP-70 self-propelled howitzer project. 150 For the navy, the shipyards and their associated suppliers had had far less involvement in collaborative programmes. The construction of hulls did not obtain any benefit from collaboration and consequently the main area for shared effort resided in the weapons systems.

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