RAF wins Tornado dogfight

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Indy Politics
Senior Tory MPs have been told that David Hart, the controversial adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Portillo, will be overruled on plans to lease F-16 jets from the US, instead of upgrading British-built Tornado F3s, writes Colin Brown.

The news emerged as the Ministry of Defence announced a shift of emphasis away from the strongly free-market approach preferred by Mr Hart, in favour of British industry. Mr Portillo accepted demands by the Commons Select Committee on Defence to give the Department of Trade and Industry a greater role in some procurement decisions.

Mr Hart's proposal to lease the F-16 jets from the US enraged the RAF board and caused stiff opposition from senior RAF officers, who have been lobbying hard for the RAF F3 Tornados to be upgraded, at a cost of pounds 120m, until the Eurofighter project bears fruit.

Michael Heseltine, the Deputy Prime Minister, has also lined up against the proposal to lease the US jets.