Letter: National debate on defence policy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Polly Toynbee states that there has not been any dogfighting in aerial combat since the Battle of Britain. The Fleet Air Arm Sea Harriers "mixed it' with Argentine aircraft during the Falklands conflict. Sidewinders were used, but often British pilots had to get in close for a kill using cannons. In the Gulf, the RAF Tornado F3s were withdrawn from direct air support over the battlefield because they where not agile enough to take on Iraqi MiG-29s.

The current generation of Russian-built aircraft (which are being exported to anyone who can pay) are extremely capable dogfight aircraft. The RAF needs Eurofighter, because it is affordable (especially when compared to the US F-22) and capable of meeting this threat, wherever it may be met. If Eurofighter were to be scrapped, what would we replace it with, and where would the money come from?

The media attacks on Eurofighter remind me of the ill-informed campaign that killed the last truly great British aircraft project, the TSR-2.

TEX BENNETT

Earls Colne, Essex

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