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Wednesday, 24 September 1958


Mr OSBORNE (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Air) - I announced quite recently that the first of the two Sabre jet squadrons destined for the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya would begin its movement on 1st December, and that the other squadron would begin on 1st February of next year. It is, as the honorable member has suggested, a formidable undertaking to move two single-engined jet squadrons over such long distances and such wide expanses of ocean. However, elaborate precautions have been taken to provide navigational aids and air-sea rescue facilities along the route. We shall receive assistance from the Royal Air Force and from friendly powers. The honorable member asked me whether it would be possible to send these aircraft to Malaya in an aircraft carrier. It would, I think, be technically possible for the aircraft to make the ocean journey on the deck of a carrier, but how they would be discharged from the carrier at a wharf in Penang and transported from there to Butterworth airfield, some considerable distance away, 1 do not know. It would not, I think, be very easy or even practicable. But there is another more important consideration. Flexibility and mobility are essential requisites of modern air power. No one can possibly foretell where or in what circumstances these squadrons will be required to operate in the future, and it is essential that they should be able to transport themselves on their own wings. That, I may say, is. the very firm view of the Royal Australian Air Force and of the members of the squadrons themselves. To forgo the opportunity to carry out this important exercise would be to give away the chance of demonstrating to themselves and to others their capacity to move over long distances whenever called upon to do so.







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