The independent London newspaper

The chancellor would do well to look at the RAF

23 September, 2021

• THE chancellor has launched Spending Review 21, which will conclude late October alongside the Autumn Budget.

The Office for National Statistics has this month published its annual report “UK armed forces equipment and formations” and its “quarterly service personnel statistics”. The Treasury, seeking savings across Whitehall, should review these statistics.

The RAF’s aircraft numbers are down but its personnel have increased to some 33,370, such that there are now fully 50 uniformed RAF regulars for each and every one of the 586 powered aircraft of all types, and the 81 gliders, in the Royal Air Force fleet.

The Royal Navy has 34,040 regulars, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary 1,922 all told. The Navy has, for the first time in decades, more personnel than the RAF.

The budgets for both services are broadly similar and the RAF maintains a structure of air officers similar to its Royal Navy equivalent.

Yet whereas the Navy, not surprisingly, operates all ships and submarines, as well as some 100 Fleet Air Arm aircraft and a Corps of 6,000 Royal Marines, the RAF operates only 75 per cent of the UK’s naval and military aircraft (including less than half of all helicopters).

The RAF also has 10 display teams – five with aircraft – detailed on its website and omits an 11th, RAF police dogs. Eleven display teams – it makes the RAF seem more like a circus than an armed service!

It would require “Sir Humphrey” on top form to explain why the RAF maintains a 100 per cent structure to operate 75 per cent of the UK’s naval and military aircraft and 11 display teams. The chancellor would likely be interested in the answer.

(Lt Cdr RN, retired)
Reachview Close, NW1


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