Britain is to sell helicopters to South Africa. The latest move in the question of?
Britain is to sell helicopters to South Africa. The latest move in the question of arms for South Africa came in the House of Commons on Monday (February 22nd) when the Foreign Secretary, Sir Alec Douglas Home, announced that the export would be allowed of Wasp helicopters. Later, in South Africa's parliament the defence Minister, Mr. Pieter Botha, said South Africa would place orders for seven Wasps.
Britain's Labour Government banned the sale of arms to South Africa in 1964 after a U.N. resolution against arms for South Africa. but the Conservative Government, which came to power in June, 1970, re-opened the issue. A report to the British parliament by the Government's legal advisers early this month said that Britain was obliged to supply the helicopters as well as naval spares and equipment for other vessels delivered to South Africa under the 1955 Simonstown agreement on the defence of sea routes around the Cape of Good Hope.
The question of whether Britain should supply arms to South Africa dominated the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference in Singapore in January. But the British Prime Minister, Mr. Edward Heath, made it clear then that Britain would make a decision in the light of its own interests and did not feel bound to await a report by an eight-nation Commonwealth study group set up to consider the defence of the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.
Wasp helicopters, made by the British firm of Westland Helicopters Limited, are in service with South African Navy and Several other navies, including the British, Netherlands and Australian. The Rolls-Royce engined Wasp in designed to operate from small platforms aboard frigates and destroyers. Its armament includes two torpedoes for anti-submarine duties.