RAF to Form Navy Cooperation Squadron

With the recent confirmation of RAF Marham as the main Operating Base for the the UK’s F35B stealth jets the RAF and Fleet Air Arm have been finalising plans for Joint Force Lightning.

The MoD has since confirmed that a similar operating model to the Sentinel organisation model, that sees personnel from both the RAF and Army combined in the 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron.

It is a truly jointly manned RAF Squadron and the Officer Commanding, Wg Cdr Allan Marshall, has a current com­plement of approximately 250 personnel, split between RAF and Army. When at full strength, the Squadron will have over 300 RAF, Army and civilian personnel, making No 5 (AC) Sqn one of the largest flying Sqn in the RAF by some margin. The composition of the Sqn is like no other, as it requires RAF from all walks of life and eight different Army cap badges to deliver this hugely diverse military capa­bility.

Based at RAF Marham, II (Army Cooperation) Squadron currently operates the Tornado GR4.

The oldest fixed-wing flying squadron in the world. Since its formation in 1912, the Squadron has lived-up to its informal motto of ‘Second to None’. Its many achievements include the first use of airborne cameras in 1914, the award of the first air Victoria Cross in 1915 and the first pictures of the D-Day landings in 1944. Today the Squadron remains a key part of the RAF’s front-line, maintaining the capability to conduct reconnaissance and attack operations where ever and when ever required.

When the F35B Lightning II joins the squadron sometime towards the end of the decade it will rename and form the first operational squadron for the new Joint Force Lightning (JFL)

Pilots from the Fleet Air Arm will join the existing complement of RAF personnel.

Commenting on the announcement, RAF Wing Commander Johnson said;

I am looking forward to the challenge of bringing the first JFL aircraft into operational service and working closely with our colleagues from the Fleet Air Arm. The UK must maximise on its investment in the Joint Strike Fighter programme and together with the Typhoon will provide a potent and flexible combination that can be operated equally from land or sea. II (NC) Squadron will form a vital part of Carrier Strike when embarked although initially this will likely be for limited periods as land based training will take precedence. Bringing a new aircraft into service and integrating it with Typhoon will require a considerable effort which will necessarily take priority.

It is also likely that II(NC) Squadron will share many facilities with the USAF at RAF Lakenheath as they eventually replace their F-15E’s with the F-35A.

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Dan
Dan
April 1, 2013 9:01 am

So we won’t get carrier strike then as the RAF will be busy playing with USAF and there owen typhoon to do Training for carrier strike

WiseApe
April 1, 2013 9:41 am

I’m afraid my comments mirror those of Dan above. Hammond said the initial purchase of 48 F35s was to re-establish carrier aviation after a 10+ year gap. Now we find that gap will be longer as navy has to wait until RAF has finished integrating F35B with Typhoon and US F35As. Hmmm, I wonder who will get to decide when that integration is sufficiently mature to release the F35s to the carrier(s)?

This is just speculation on my part of course, but I think there will be a lot of ongoing development once F35 is in service, if only because DoD won’t give LM any more time/money in the programme. Plus development of Typhoon is ongoing.

Why is this taking priority over carrier strike? This is supposed to be the future of UK expeditionary ops! What about integration with USN/USMC/Italy/France carrier air?

I really wanted to be positive about this JFL deal, but these RAF inspired comments have really taken the wind out of my sails – seriously, no pun intended. :-(

Edit – Partly to answer my own question about priorities – I think this is a pretty clear indication that there will only be one carrier in service, at least for many years. No point having two or three in service when there continues to be no aircraft to put on them; we don’t have enough helos either! One CVF to replace Lusty/Ocean in LPH role, the other(s) mothballed or sold off?

Keil Kraft
Keil Kraft
April 1, 2013 9:43 am

Why does the RAF need F-35Bs while they have socking great runways, why didn’t they opt for the F-35A? Why does the RAF need any version of the F-35 why they have the Typhoon? Seems they are playing silly games again anyway, I thought the RN had organised F-35B pilot training with the USN and USMC and bypassed the RAF.

x
x
April 1, 2013 9:45 am

It’s April 1st isn’t it? Happy Birthday RAF!

Mark
Mark
April 1, 2013 9:46 am

TD

Very gd :) :)

WiseApe
April 1, 2013 9:49 am

The edit function doesn’t appear to be working, so:

Edit – Partly to answer my own question about priorities – I think this is a pretty clear indication that there will only be one carrier in service, at least for many years. No point having two or three in service when there continues to be no aircraft to put on them; we don’t have enough helos either! One CVF to replace Lusty/Ocean in LPH role, the other(s) mothballed or sold off?

WiseApe
April 1, 2013 9:53 am

Blast now the edit function works but the “delete” function doesn’t! Things seem to work in Chrome but not in my preferred Firefox.

April 1st? What difference does that ….oh. :oops:

Fedaykin
April 1, 2013 10:38 am

Almost feel like going over to the Phoenix Think Tank to see if Sharkey has picked up on this and started chewing the carpet ;-)

Oh the fun that can be had with the 1st of April!

Fatman
Fatman
April 1, 2013 10:44 am

Surely, with their mutual decline into small technically-based services, it is now time to consider combining the Royal Navy and RAF – call it the Royal Naval Air Service perhaps? The RNAS could combine responsibility for all air operations apart from those involving traditional Army Air Corps roles. If we were to treat the UK as a large aircraft carrier offshore from the continent it makes sense to think of air defence, long range strike and maritime reconnaissance (if we had any) as essentially a naval task. With two carriers coming along and a defence policy that emphasises intervention operations from the sea in extra-European theatres, then the case is even more apparent. After all the RN already has Trident and Tomahawk, which constitute the nation’s strategic bombing capability, a traditional RAF role.

Yes, I know there are those who feel that only an independent air force is capable of understanding and fulfilling airpower strategy (I am looking at you TD), but as the RAF steadily shrinks towards the size of the Danish Air Force it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain such a standpoint. In the end I think economies of scale will do for the RAF. It is difficult to justify Cranwell and a significant senior officer hierarchy for a piddling small force. So let’s start thinking about how this can be done with maximum effect. A good start might be to absorb the RAF Regiment to the Royal Marines as 44 (Air) Commando and move their training to Lympstone. I would suggest the final amalgamation date should be 1 April 2018, this allowing the RAF its centenary.

Incidentally, I am not anti-RAF at all (I was a member of the ATC and an original member of the RAF Historical Association), but if we don’t start thinking radically some future Chancellor is going to impose a much worse solution on the Services.

Keil Kraft
Keil Kraft
April 1, 2013 10:51 am

Nothing would surprise me with the RAF. However, it appears more plausable than the whole FSTA PFI saga.

x
x
April 1, 2013 11:59 am

“After all the RN already has Trident and Tomahawk, which constitute the nation’s strategic bombing capability, a traditional RAF role.”

The key word is the one in italics and bold and not the word after it. Only navies can influence strategically; well until we have a space service that can be the other side of the planet in a hour or two. Though very brave we shouldn’t over estimate how much Bomber Command influenced WW2 outcome. Blunting German war production which actually rose year on year during the war verses the strategic campaign of the Battle of the Atlantic. Strategic bombing from aeroplanes became an anachronism the day the first V2 hit London. Just as massed armies, industrial total war, became an anachronism the day the Yanks dropped the A-bomb. Everybody knows my views on who should be flying F35b in that it should be a wholly FAA affair in that all the maintainers and support staff enter through RN recruiting channels expecting to go to sea building on RAF’s technical expertise. Ultimately that will become FAA expertise too but we live in a purple world. And the pilots become a pool able to switch to Typhoon and back and pursue which ever service career path (RN or RAF) they choose. (Though with a shrinking fleet one would hope fish-heads got commands over WAFU.)

I read on Sol’s blog somebody has suggested that the USAF should drop the A and just go with the C variant. It would be a laugh if the RAF ended up having to buy the carrier variant of F35 when our carriers are not compatible.

Why is Singapore buying B and not A or C?

Mark
Mark
April 1, 2013 12:35 pm

If we re-formed RAF coastal command we could just scrap the navy.

Singapore wants the b for dispersal reasons operating of roads and such. However if I were them I’d have bought gripen for that purpose.

x
x
April 1, 2013 1:47 pm

@ Mark

Yes Gripen. I suppose they are buying into a larger newer programme. Interesting. Perhaps we can sell them some SLRs to arm the FP element just to add that air of 70s authenticity?

Chris.B
Chris.B
April 1, 2013 1:54 pm

“If we re-formed RAF coastal command we could just scrap the navy.”
— Haha, touche I think.

– German war production increased year on year because they took several years to realise that this was going to be a long war. Re-calculating their increase in production but now retaining the use of all the targets hit by the combined bomber offensive, plus freeing the resources that were devoted to protecting Germany against said bomber offensive, and you would end up with some very much more impressive figures, including releasing significant resources to other theatres.

– Aeroplanes are needed to stop the enemy using their aeroplanes from bombing you, spying on you, etc. The fact that these planes can then carry bombs themselves is incredibly handy, especially when you consider their ability to shuttle back and forth with much cheaper bombs, hitting enough targets to make the cost of cruise missiles only exorbitant (providing of course you can find room to store several thousand cruise missiles close to the warzone. Handily those same planes can then move on to supporting army operations.

– If the RAF gets A or C as a Tornado replacement then all you’re left with is a small contingent of B for the FAA. If the RAF gets B as well then you can have a core fleet of FAA aircraft for the carriers, with the RAF able to provide surge capacity. The B makes far more sense for the RAF right now than either C or A.

– “Only navies can influence strategically”; Crafty. Got your April Fools joke got in just before midday.

– I always find it odd that when people want to bash the RAF they go straight for the “they only care about fast jets and not support stuff” line. Then when someone wants to disband/merge the RAF all the support planes that are owned are suddenly forgotten about. Denmark wishes it could field 200 odd frontline fighters, let alone all the non-fast jet stuff.

Challenger
Challenger
April 1, 2013 2:01 pm

Ha-ha, what have you started TD! This will go on for days!

Chris.B
Chris.B
April 1, 2013 2:05 pm

I’m bored and I’ve got time on my hands. I’m game.

Fatman
Fatman
April 1, 2013 2:18 pm

B
Do you realise that once the Typhoons are scrapped c2030-2032 the UK will possess no more than 40-60 F-35s (assuming the project is not cancelled)? Even now the entire fast jet pilot roster is in the low 3 figures and decreasing steadily. That is hardly the sign of a major air force with a serious future. The RAF will probably stagger on for the next 25 years, facing reduction after reduction, but ultimately the truth will sink in. The plain fact is that most Western countries are going to be confronted with combat aircraft becoming so expensive and so few in number that it will become impossible to justify maintaining separate organisations just to run them. This cost issue was the very problem that was supposed to be solved by the ‘inexpensive’ F-35 and look what has happened there.

UAVs are proving to be just as expensive as manned aircraft, possibly more so given their ground crew requirements. If the UK runs just one carrier it is quite possible that a force of 4-5 combat squadrons x 12 aircraft will suffice (1-2 aboard ship and 2-3 in the UK air defence role), totalling 48-60 aircraft. Operating both carriers would suggest a need for 6-7 squadrons (say 72-84 aircraft), though the affordability of this on present trends must be very questionable. If no more than three squadrons are to be land-based for air defence, supported by perhaps another 24-36 strike UAVs, is it really sensible to try to claim that an entire independent service is required to operate such a small force? I suggest that we will reach a tipping point in the next 10-15 years, where the advocates of an independent RAF will have their work cut out trying to explain why it should retain its current status. The disappearance of the Belgian Air Force may well be a pointer to the way ahead.

Tom
Tom
April 1, 2013 2:46 pm

Very good TD.

You had going for a moment. I guess the clue should of been the fact you posted in ‘History and Humour’.

Challenger
Challenger
April 1, 2013 2:47 pm

The reality is that the F35 will be run in a similar way to how the Harrier was in it’s twilight years under the joint force structure, with the RAF brining the majority of the training system, servicing/maintenance and ground personnel to the table, which means that for all the talk of joint this and cooperative that they will essentially own the aircraft. The most the FAA will be able to provide is a handful of pilots that go on de-facto secondment through the RAF system, and the FAA will probably get a bone thrown to them in the shape of a NAS badge.

And here comes the controversial bit…I don’t think that has to be such a bad thing. Whether you’re pro RAF or pro FAA (or like the sensible of us neutral!) most of us agree that it’s already an expensive waste to try and set-up/run 2 separate fast-jet structures, the FAA struggled to do that properly even in it’s post war boom years and was getting RAF help years before the Sea Harrier got scrapped, and it’s only going to get more costly and complex as time goes on. Much better to have squadrons that pool each services pilots, ground crews, maintenance and training systems and act as swing-role units.

What I’m saying is that as long as the FAA gets access to a designated amount of F35, pilots and support structures to make good use of the carrier/carriers then I think they can count themselves lucky. Perhaps some sort of ‘in writing’ assurances would be good to make sure they can operate a fixed minimum of aircraft in peacetime and can also count on a surge amount of men and machines in wartime.

With 48 F35B id like to see 2-3 squadrons in RAF service, but with FAA personnel mixed in, the assurance of 1 squadron deployed with the in service carrier on rotation and the planning assumptions put in place so that another surge element could join them at sea for either a major (occasional) exercise or for a real wartime scenario where 24+ jets could be required.

Swing-role units that pool collective resources are the future, none of this RAF or FAA guff!

Chris.B
Chris.B
April 1, 2013 2:55 pm

@ Fatman

– Even countries with smaller air forces than ours maintain separate air forces. There are many, many reasons why this is so.

– Tornado entered service in the late 70’s and will retire no earlier than 2015, with 2020 a more likely time frame providing the government pulls its finger out of its arse on the economy. That’s nearly 40 years of service for a low flying, hard riding aircraft. I wouldn’t count Typhoon down and out by 2030. 2040 is far more likely.

– One would have thought that by 2020, the economy will be in a bit better shape than it is now and thus the % of GDP spent on defence will be worth more than it is now. I strongly doubt we’ll go from several hundred aircraft to a handful.

– Again, you’re ignoring the fact that there is more to the air force than just fighter jets.

Topman
Topman
April 1, 2013 3:33 pm

God you’ve set them off now TD, you’ll have them coming out of the wood work now!

x
x
April 1, 2013 4:04 pm

@ Topman

Are you having jelly and cakes as it your birthday?

topman
topman
April 1, 2013 4:06 pm

Well funny you should mention blue mtp…

x
x
April 1, 2013 4:09 pm

@ Chris B

A week or so back I spoke with Think Defence about your responding to my comments.

Could you please refrain from commenting on anything I post here?

I don’t know why you get off on thinking you can get one over on me all the time but it is getting tiresome.

Fatman
Fatman
April 1, 2013 4:10 pm

B
‘Even countries with smaller air forces than ours maintain separate air forces. There are many, many reasons why this is so.’

This is hardly a sensible justification. The main reasons are tradition, bureaucratic inertia, politicking and unwillingness to face up to economic reality. I think you will see a lot of smaller air forces start to disappear as the costs become excessive. Most will end up as air arms residing within the army.

‘I wouldn’t count Typhoon down and out by 2030. 2040 is far more likely.’
Planned OSD for the remaining Batch 3 Typhoons is currently the early 2030s – it will only extend if F-35 is running late. After that F-35 is supposed to be the only manned combat fast jet. On present planning half of this small force may be at sea.

‘One would have thought that by 2020, the economy will be in a bit better shape than it is now and thus the % of GDP spent on defence will be worth more than it is now.’

How much do you bet? The UK’s inherent structural economic problems (and I write as a defence economist) will see the UK steadily decline vis-s-vis many of its competitors, not helped by the retirement of large number of baby-boomers. This will put great strain on health and social service budgets – and these people are voters… The defence budget will flat line at best unless some new threat emerges. Europe is more likely to be the sort of strategic backwater that we presently associate with Latin America. The real business will be in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

‘I strongly doubt we’ll go from several hundred aircraft to a handful.’
Wrong, where fast jets are concerned. Once Tornado goes the total will drop to not much more than 150. Post -Typhoon, we could be looking at fewer than 50 combat aircraft. Of course there will still be a significant number of other aircraft, but before and during the 2020s we will see the disappearance from RAF service of:

Tornado
Hawk T1
Tucano
E-3
Sentinel
Rivet Joint
C-130J
VC10
Tristar
BAE146
Puma
Merlin (from RAF service to the FAA)
Sea King SAR
Reaper

The budget does not exist to replace most of these and it would not be impossible for the entire strength of the RAF to fall to under 250 aircraft by the early 2030s. The small number of new UAVs and A-400Ms will hardly keep up the strength.

‘Again, you’re ignoring the fact that there is more to the air force than just fighter jets.’

Ah, the usual desperate justification as to why the Service structure should not be re-examined. I am not ignoring the fact at all. Are you suggesting that only the RAF can fly tankers, transports or UAVs? Do they have some special skill lacking elsewhere? Can Air Warfare Centres and radar stations only be run by the boys and girls in light blue? Nonsense. The USMC has a larger air arm than the entire RAF and flies tankers. The USN operates transports and electronic warfare aircraft.

What I am suggesting is not that the RAF be taken over by the RN, but that the two services should be amalgamated into a single organisation. There is a subtle difference. I am not arguing that everyone in a RAF uniform be sacked or immediately forced to wear a dark blue uniform – after all, the naval air arm could wear light blue to distinguish it from sailors. We would however then be better placed to maximise the use of our limited airpower without inter-Service arguments and there could be a major rationalisation of bases and hierarchies. In time the single service would seem quite natural. The RAF was an artificial creation in 1918 (thanks to the RFC and RNAS) and there is no logical reason why it should exist for ever just to keep enthusiasts and the RAF lobby happy. It is here to serve the needs of the country and when the economic portents are so dark I suggest that it is worth looking seriously at the pros and cons of such a new organisation.

topman
topman
April 1, 2013 4:12 pm

Of course, any excuse for ice cream

topman
topman
April 1, 2013 4:17 pm

@td i’m not joking, really i’m not…

topman
topman
April 1, 2013 4:20 pm

@td you think i’m joking…

Repulse
April 1, 2013 5:00 pm

It’s simple, we should just have two organisations Home and Away. Perhaps like a football team we should change shirts / colours depending on what the opposition is wearing.

Chris.B
Chris.B
April 1, 2013 5:09 pm

Sorry, was watching Sister Act 2.

@ X,
— You seem to be under the mistaken belief that you get to tell people what to do? Well tough. If I feel like replying to your posts I will, you don’t have to read them or respond to them if you don’t like them. And it’s not about “getting one over”, it’s about your arguments being – in my opinion – utter and complete nonsence. Therefore I offer alternative opinions, using things like facts to buttress these arguments. Like I say, if you don’t like it, just ignore them, like you keep saying you’re going to.

@ Fatman,
“The main reasons are tradition, bureaucratic inertia, politicking and unwillingness to face up to economic reality.”
— Actually it has more to do with the fact that it’s a lot harder to wind down an organisation that employs around 41,000 people, handles billions of pounds worth of equipment and has a significant estate under its purview, than you make it out to be. We tried the whole “naval air service/royal flying corps” thing. Funnily enough it was a Naval flying officer who recognised the inefficiency of this split and advocated a unified new service.

You’ve yet to come up with a single gain that would be achieved by this merger. You mentioned closing Cranfield, but because your purple organisation is now twice the size of either of the individual services, it means you now need double the capacity for officer training. In other words, you’re going to end up keeping Cranfield open anyway because you need the space. And all those senior positions you hope to eliminate are going nowhere, because you need almost all of those people to manage the things that they’re managing now.

All you’ve done is effectively eliminated maybe 20 senior posts and changed the colour of everyones shirts, while destroying the lineage of the both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Congratulations.

” think you will see a lot of smaller air forces start to disappear as the costs become excessive”
— A lot of small air forces are already down below seventy planes. The Danish are below 50. They keep separate air forces because funnily enough history and experience has taught us that this a very effective way of managing air assets of this kind.

“Planned OSD for the remaining Batch 3 Typhoons is currently the early 2030s –”
— What was the original Tornado OSD? What about the Type 23 Frigates? What about the FV400 series vehicles? I don’t think we’ve retired an aircraft or ship in line with its original OSD for years now. Funnily enough, we keep finding ways to just upgrade old s**t and keep it going. As Mark has excellently made the case in other threads, Typhoon has more than ample scope for future upgrading.

“How much do you bet? The UK’s inherent structural economic problems (and I write as a defence economist) will see the UK steadily decline vis-s-vis many of its competitors”
— I’d bet quite a lot. When you consider the government is making a royal shambles of their turn in power, just like the last lot made a royal shambles, and yet still the economy is able to show small signs of growth. By all reasonable measures the economy should have spluttered and died a horrific death over the last ten years with the clowns we’ve had in charge, but it’s a testament to how resilient the UK economy actually is that it’s somehow managed to pull itself through this mess. Now, the government helpfully went ahead and set the stage for creating a new housing bubble, but even that aside the economy should grow until that bursts, and will still be in a stronger position when that happens that it is now. It’s still a shambles, but it is a growing, slowly recovering shambles.

“Wrong, where fast jets are concerned”
— So we’re going to end up with a handful of fast jets you think? I’d suggest that’s being far too defeatist….

“Once Tornado goes the total will drop to not much more than 150”
— …. Ahh, I see you agree.

“Post -Typhoon, we could be looking at fewer than 50 combat aircraft”
— I strongly doubt that. Again, I refer you to such mighty powers as Norway and Holland, who maintain fast jet fleets in excess of that figure despite having far smaller GDP’s than we do now, and who spend less of their lower GDP on defence than we do.

“but before and during the 2020s we will see the disappearance from RAF service of:”

— “Tornado”; likely to be replaced with F-35,
— “Hawk T1”; already being replaced by Hawk T2,
— “Tucano”; will be replaced by something like Super Tucano,
— “E-3”; One of our most impressive capabilites, very likely to be replaced,
— “Sentinel”; Is likely to be saved, given recent impressive performance,
— “Rivet Joint”; hasn’t even entered service yet and you’re already trying to kill it off? Has a rated life to around 2040.
— “C-130J”; Is being replaced by A400M
— “VC10/Tristar”; Being replaced as we speak by Voyager,
— “BAE146”; Has only just been brought into service in the light cargo role,
— “Puma”; yeah, bye.
— “Merlin” (from RAF service to the FAA); replaced by additional Chinook,
— “Sea King SAR”; don’t even start me off on PFI’s again.
— “Reaper”; Is likely to be replaced,

And this is what annoys me. If you really are a “defence economist” then you should know all of that anyway. Which means either a) you’re being deliberately dishonest to try and prop up an incredibly tenuous argument, or b) you’re a rubbish defence economist.

“The budget does not exist to replace most of these”
— Most of these are in the process of being replaced now, or have their replacements earmarked and with funding streams laid out. You really are just a terrible defence economist.

“Ah, the usual desperate justification as to why the Service structure should not be re-examined. I am not ignoring the fact at all. Are you suggesting that only the RAF can fly tankers, transports or UAVs? Do they have some special skill lacking elsewhere? Can Air Warfare Centres and radar stations only be run by the boys and girls in light blue? Nonsense. The USMC has a larger air arm than the entire RAF and flies tankers. The USN operates transports and electronic warfare aircraft.”
— No.

But your entire argument hinged on proving that the RAF will become so small in the next decade that it’s not worth keeping as a separate service. You’re deliberately ignoring/hand waving all the other aircraft in RAF service because together they absolutely cripple the premise of your argument.

“The RAF was an artificial creation in 1918 (thanks to the RFC and RNAS) and there is no logical reason why it should exist for ever just to keep enthusiasts and the RAF lobby happy.”
— The RAF was created for very well understood reasons, on the insistence of many of the leading RNAS/RFC figures, including a very senior admiral. Those reasons still apply today, much as they did almost 100 years ago.

mike
mike
April 1, 2013 5:21 pm

Goodness Fatman… using your opinion then we should have one unified service… BAF – British Armed Forces… purple uniforms! Seriously, why stop at the junior service? Why does the RM’s continue to exist? (I jk of course XD)
This argument is certainly more entertaining than the TV on this Easter…

XD

Good joke TD, the “Navy Co-operation” tagline immediately roused suspicions… x liked to coin that phrase for RAF Chinooks embarked on the CVF in the future… though, unlike AC, there’s no history of such phrase.

Fatman
Fatman
April 1, 2013 5:40 pm

B
Yes I can now see X’s totally reasonable point about the nature of your responses. It is always easier to make ad hominem attacks and criticise the abilities and knowledge of someone you don’t even know than to rationally examine the facts. I am afraid that whatever you believe you have little idea of the numbers of new aircraft involved, planned ISDs/OSDs or the budgetary implications and are making a number of sweeping assumptions and guesses that are simply not based on reality. From the emotional incontinence of your response I suspect you might be RAF or ex-RAF, or aged about 14, but I don’t really wish to make any assumptions on such slim evidence.

If the RAF did not presently exist as an independent service then few people with an iota of common sense would suggest forming it in the present economic climate. But it does exist and we have to maximise air power capabilities at a time of extended austerity. All I am suggesting is that with the rapid decline in the size of the RAF it will have a very serious task in justifying its continued independence to politicians seeking savings through repeated salami-slicing. It would be better to start thinking about how the capabilities of the force can be best preserved, even if this means fundamental structural changes. Otherwise some nasty politician will do the job for the RAF and it could find it is either so small as to be worthless or is broken up between the Army and RN.

I fear you are going to have some severe disappointments in the 2020s as much of the RAF starts to dissolve in front of you. Don’t moan that no-one told you – just learn to be open-minded and start engaging brain when thinking about the future.

Happy Easter.

Fatman
Fatman
April 1, 2013 6:00 pm

@mike
Actually what I am suggesting is a two colour set-up: green and royal blue. Keep the Army with its Army Air Corps, maintain the RN and RM, and link the RAF within the Navy as successor to the FAA. The land and sea are distinctly different environments, while the air is not. However, airpower remains fundamental to future military success, regardless of who provides it. What I do not think is rational is the running of an air force and two air arms at a time of austerity.

Glad you are enjoying the entertainment. Obviously it helps when some poor soul gets wound up so easily…

Jeremy M H
April 1, 2013 6:03 pm

@Fatman

While Chris and I have disagreed elsewhere on the nature of the RAF structure in the future I think you are overly negative about its overall future. I think you big mistake is in assuming that the RAF will drop to around 150 aircraft when Tornado is gone. The RAF will most likely have the ability to order F-35’s for something like 15 years. Just because they are only getting 48 now does not really mean that they can’t get more in the future. It is a mistake to assume that the whole force structure will be the initial F-35 order and the tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons.

I think a more reasonable assumption is that the F-35 gets integrated over the 2015-2020 time frame and then some decisions are made regarding just how Tornado gets replaced with the decision being to either do an upgrade and life extension program on the early build Typhoons or buy more F-35’s of some variant. Chris and I disagree on what to expect at this point but fundamentally I expect a force for be maintained that is around 200 fast jets.

I don’t see any justification for folding the RAF into the RN (which I guess is marginally sensible on some level) or into the Army (which is bonkers). The application of modern air power is a very complicated activity that takes a lifetime of study to be proficient at. The USN gets away with it by having a large enough aviation component that they have their own institutional understanding of the subject (and in some areas have more expertise than the USAF).

Folding the RAF into another service would provide almost no benefit and a lot of headaches. You would either have to create a bunch of new officer positions to preserve the institutional capabilities and knowledge the RAF already has or risk losing it. If you create the necessary positions your net savings becomes very small indeed.

Fatman
Fatman
April 1, 2013 6:22 pm

@Jeremy M H
Without going into excessive detail, present plans are based on the F-35 being the only fast jet in service after the early 2030s. If the originally predicted prices still applied then it would be logical to assume that the UK would get more than 48. But the planned order has steadily dropped: 150-135-90-around 50. The MOD faces a perfect storm: Trident replacement, Type 26, Challenger successor, FRES UV, E-3 replacement (if any – none is planned), combat UAV (UAS to be precise). Add to that the steadily rising unit costs of the F-35 (estimated at around £100m per aircraft). The key number determinants will be the air defence and carrier requirements as I explained above. I think the Typhoon will end up being kept in service longer to maintain numbers, but it won’t last beyond 2040 at most, which coincides with the Rafale leaving service. Moreover, Typhoon MLUs will be expensive.

Personally I think the RAF/FAA need a force of around 200 combat jets, but I just do not see the finance being available to maintain this. More precisely, the money is available, but there is no political will to spend it on fighters when faced with very large numbers of old people requiring expensive and social services care. So unless a new threat appears I cannot see the RAF/FAA combat force exceeding more than about 85-100 in the early 2030s and it could be significantly less than that, perhaps as low as 40 + UAVs.

Jeremy M H
April 1, 2013 7:07 pm

@Fatman

While I see what you are talking about I just don’t buy it. Frankly the UK would do better off without an Army than it would with a crippled Air Force. Let your continental allies handle that aspect of things.

While spending concerns are real I can’t see the Defense Ministry electing to procure new tanks rather than new fighters. I think a Challenger successor is very unlikely in any major form. The Army would be doing well to get new guns that let them make use of other nations NATO munitions on it and I would bet against that as well.

I think FRES stands a good chance of being junked as well. The Army can be told to soldier on with upgraded Warrior and the hodge-podge of crap(no bad equipment just a lot of different vehicles) it carts back from Afghanistan.

I also would not expect Europe to be ready to plow money into a Combat UAV for at least 10 years and possibly more like 15. In my estimation the US (which has a lot more UAV experience) is probably nearly 10 years away from putting a real combat oriented UAV into service. There are just a lot of obstacles to overcome before that happens for anyone and I think the early ones will likely be little more than bomb trucks. I would honestly expect someone to let the US go down the path first with some derivative of the X-47 and learn their lessons for free. There is solid work going into the basics in Europe but a very long way to go to have an operational system.

I think there will be cuts but they will fall most heavily on the Army in the short to mid-term.

Chris.B
Chris.B
April 1, 2013 7:23 pm

@ Fatman,
“Yes I can now see X’s totally reasonable point about the nature of your responses. It is always easier to make ad hominem attacks and criticise the abilities and knowledge of someone you don’t even know than to rationally examine the facts”
— Two things of note. 1) I remember the last time you were lurking around these parts you did precisely that (personal attacks) to NaB, so you can take that innocence card and play it somewhere else fella. 2) I did break down your arguments using facts. You were proven wrong (and anyone with 30mins spare and Google access can double check all that), that’s your problem, just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

” I am afraid that whatever you believe you have little idea of the numbers of new aircraft involved, planned ISDs/OSDs or the budgetary implications ”
— This data is all publicly available and many of the orders are already confirmed. Like I said, anyone with 30 mins to spare and Google access can double check.

“From the emotional incontinence of your response I suspect you might be RAF or ex-RAF, or aged about 14, but I don’t really wish to make any assumptions on such slim evidence.”
— I’m neither serving, nor ex-RAF, nor am I 14. But like X in the past I see you’ve taken the approach of making a fuss over personal attacks and decrying that such actions are beneath you (re; “It is always easier to make ad hominem attacks and criticise the abilities and knowledge of someone you don’t even know than to rationally examine the facts”)….. before indulging in precisely the behaviour you claim to abhor so much. I believe the word you’re looking for is ‘Hypocrisy’.

“All I am suggesting is that with the rapid decline in the size of the RAF”
— All the services have seen cuts. Yet all remain independent, largely because they all are still some of the largest and most proficient organisations of their type in the world.

“it will have a very serious task in justifying its continued independence to politicians seeking savings through repeated salami-slicing”
— So far, not a single credible politician has suggested anything even close to this. This entire concept of merging the British services together is a complete fantasy of the Internet. The conditions required for it to even be remotely conceivable to a politicians mind can only be conjured up the most bias of assessments on the web. This PM can even bring himself to shut down the Red Arrows, and if he did it would cause all kinds of moaning and jeering in the house, papers etc. And yet you really expect that the entire organisation will be merged off into another? It’s just an utter fantasy.

“Otherwise some nasty politician will do the job for the RAF and it could find it is either so small as to be worthless or is broken up between the Army and RN.”
— See above.

“I fear you are going to have some severe disappointments in the 2020s as much of the RAF starts to dissolve in front of you”
— You make it sound like Britain is on the verge of becoming Somalia. Britain is still a rich nation. Our economy could shrink by a few percent every year until 2020 and we’d still be one of the top ten economies in the world. While I suspect the budget will be cut further, including more cuts in SDSR 2015, you are wildly over cooking the nature of it. Even if Tornado retired and was not replaced in any regard, you still have a significant force left over.

“just learn to be open-minded and start engaging brain when thinking about the future.”
— There’s a difference between being open minded and being a fantasist. And just to pick up a point you made to Jeremy…

“I think the Typhoon will end up being kept in service longer to maintain numbers, but it won’t last beyond 2040 at most”
— I’m sorry, but earlier you were touting about how Typhoon would be gone in the early 2030s and that would be the death knell of the RAF. Now you think it’s going to be kept in service longer? You’ve flipped your position dramatically in the last few hours.

WiseApe
April 1, 2013 7:44 pm

@TD – Is it safe to come back on? I haven’t been “punked” like that in years – well played, sir.

Oh dear, we’re off on another “scrap the RAF” trip again, except for Mark with his suggestion of replacing the RN with an airforce based coast guard. All good fun.

@Fatman – You seem to be very pessimistic about the future not just of the RAF but of the UK as a whole. Hope you’re wrong and indeed believe you are. You seem to be under the impression that UK is a poor country on its last legs. We’re not and we’re not. We have a large GDP, how we choose to spend it is the issue.

Mark
Mark
April 1, 2013 8:17 pm

WiseApe

Well as the RN is smaller than the raf and coastal command operated both actual boats and flying boats I just joined the dots best way to sink ships and subs you know is from the air.

Think of all the quality hotel trade we could generate at various sea side locations around the uk or various overseas locations Bahamas Maldives Mauritius Cyprus Dubai.

WiseApe
April 1, 2013 8:51 pm

“Well as the RN is smaller than the raf…” – Roll on unmanned flying machines. :-D

Hotel prices in Bermuda are eye-watering, I’m surprised you missed it off your list. We could even fulfill TD’s “austere forward basing” fantasy – base the F35Bs on the hotel carparks.

Mark
Mark
April 1, 2013 9:10 pm

WiseApe

http://www.knowdrones.com/usaf-future-of-rpa.pdf each cap is 3/4 drones.

Bermuda aye you see austerity measures mean sacrifices are required!

Challenger
Challenger
April 1, 2013 9:21 pm

I don’t want to rehash very large, complex arguments, but just a few points I agree/disagree on….

As Chris pointed out their is an increasing trend for extending the OSD for major bits of kit. Typhoon may go in the mid 2030’s, but it could be quite a bit later through upgrades or (less likely in my view) a bit earlier if we really struggle to operate 2 complex fast jets and think it’s better to transition to one type at an earlier date. We just don’t know.

As has also been pointed out, plenty of air-forces operate well under 150-250 aircraft with around 50 or less of them being fast jets, so it seems strange to say that would be the definite death nail for the RAF, and I do anyway think the UK has a requirement for around 200 aircraft and I really can’t see it slipping much below the 160-180 mark. The question of what shape and mix the fast jet fleet will take is a whole other, very complex debate, which I won’t go into now.

The UK is far from economically ruined. We are going through a rough patch and the general ineptitude of the current ‘government’ obviously hasn’t helped the situation, but the UK is still one of the largest economies in the world with a lot more resilience then people realise. The problems we face aren’t even on the same scale as the ones a lot of other countries are facing, or even the ones that we had to deal with historically.

On the whole RAF vs FAA rubbish, well as I stated earlier I think the RAF controlling the training, upgrade and maintenance paths for Tornado and Typhoon means that it is overwhelmingly best place to be the de-facto owner of F35 whether people like it or not. The FAA can most probably provide some pilots and make other modest contributions but they will essentially loan the aircraft from the RAF. The best they can hope for is some embedded agreement on the swing-role nature of the fleet and the minimum requirement for the carriers etc. As I previously posted, id like to see the initial 48 airframes put into 3 squadrons with 1 on FAA rotation, another having the ability to surge the carrier component if ever necessary and the whole set-up being a pool of RAF and FAA people creating a ‘Joint Force Lightning’ set-up that would hopefully in time begin to transcend the traditional service rivalry crap

Mark
Mark
April 1, 2013 9:43 pm

Well I think two more tonka sqn are to go over the next 12 months most likely all remaining units concentrated at marham with Lossiemouth becoming all typhoon over the same timeframe. Tornados osd could be earlier than 2019. Typhoon with either be 5 slightly larger sqns or maybe 6 sqn.

As for f35 the 48 a/c include the the 4 test aircraft currently under contract in the US most likely 1 oeu 4 a/c 1 ocu of about 8 a/c and 2 operational sqn of about 9-12 a/c will be what comes out of the initial order.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 1, 2013 10:58 pm

@Challenger – quite right on the economy. The Conservatives gave a series of binding promises on the NHS, Education, various Benefits (for the elderly); they would have abandoned those promises about fifteen minutes after taking office as a fully Conservative Government, blaming their predecessors – the ones who thought it amusing having trashed the economy to leave a note saying “There is no more money” as they left the Treasury.

As it is, they were forced in to coalition with a party who mostly inhabit la-la land and in consequence are stuck with their own electioneering folly, and to the considerable detriment of any sensible programme to reduce the deficit…hard in any event, much harder with several massive budgets out of bounds.

All the serious politicians in the country have noted this lesson, and none will make the same mistake again…the deficit cutting environment will be quite different after the next election, because no serious party will tie their hands again in the same way. No guarantee Defence will benefit, but there are certainly much bigger sacred cows that will be lined up for the chop.

Bad news for affluent pensioners and middle-class mums spending the child benefit on dry white wine though…

mike
mike
April 1, 2013 11:27 pm

just a shout, the 3 F-35B’s that will be operated (apparently) by 17Sqn are ‘orange wired’ and wont be leaving the US.

Silly FAA and RAF arguments… sadly Fatman your wrong in the sense it’ll ‘disappear’…just evolve into something differently focused than what it is on now. As with all the forces, they change as tech, requirements and events change.
There will be a need for some dedicated service… why has not one single nation of significance have it the way your pushing? I am not arguing for Chris, just musing my own thoughts.

As a crab I have served alongside navy, army and other people… and it seems that the Air is a very much different area than you give credit for…you dont seem to ‘get it’, it has grey edges and certainly not as easy to catagorise as you can with land and sea… its like the electronic spectrum. No, I feel that if you see the need to subsumation then either the junior service takes it all (no thanks), or all 3 services get subsumed into some BAF, which I can see happening in 2050 or so… especially with the advent of space based stuff.

Challenger quite sums up my mood. People forget the FAA’s real role… it, like the AAC, is not an air force, but an Air Arm. For the needs of the service its in…. the fleet… and as the big boys in charge of the senior service will always regard it as a service to serve the fleet, when added with other assets from the other two, *then* it becomes something bigger…. With all respect, don’t get caught up in some grandeur image of it.

Challenger
Challenger
April 2, 2013 11:12 am

@Mark

The next Typhoon squadron should stand up within the next year to cover the two Tornado ones that are going, id like at least one more Typhoon but that’s probably wishful thinking. Guessing 617 will be one of the first off as it will stand up with the F35 in the not too distant future.

I agree that Marham will concentrate the remaining Tornado fleet leaving Lossiemouth purely Typhoon.

Fatman
Fatman
April 2, 2013 2:16 pm

B et al
I don’t think you understand the difference between my personal preferences (that a reasonable size fast jet force be maintained) and what is actually being planned by a cash strapped MOD (which makes the question of retaining an independent air force worthy of discussion). I am afraid that searching on Google does not cut it in terms of serious understanding of issues such as OSDs and funding streams. The bottom line is that without political change and significant extra funding there is a distinct possibility that the RAF of 2032 will comprise around:

40-50 F-35B
20-40 Combat UAVs (Taranis or whatever)
14 Voyagers
8 C-17s
22 A400Ms
60 Chinooks
28 Hawk T2s
er, and that is just about it (excluding a few communications types) = about 192-222 airframes

There are no current procurement programmes or planned funding for a new maritime patrol aircraft, AWACS, ELINT (Rivet Joint will be gone well before 2030, believe me), light transports, or more Chinooks beyond the dozen on order. The Tucanos will be replaced by something like PC-9 or PC-21, but these aircraft will not belong to the RAF and may not even be operated in the training role by the Service (another PFI).

Even if new programmes were to be instituted we would I guess be looking at no more than:

10-12 P-3s
4-5 new AWACS
3 new ELINT

That takes effective RAF strength up to around 212-240 aircraft, plus any extra F-35s that might be procured (and the word might is very conditional.).

Some people think I am being unduly pessimistic. Well, all I can say is that if you look at the RAF of 1990 and its strength and compare it with 2013 you can easily see which way the trend is going. Galloping inflation in aircraft unit prices is another factor. I am not suggesting the UK is another Somalia, but this country is clearly in relative economic decline compared with many others and given scarce resources it is unlikely that rebuilding defence will be top of the agenda, barring a new Cold War. That may be unpalatable, but it is also true.

The short term solution to the F-35 issue is to dispose of the carriers, white elephants that they are, and switch to F-35A. This would be more affordable and could enable the UK to buy a greater number of aircraft. I suspect Brazil and India would be interested (and maybe China too…). At the moment the carrier requirements are distorting procurement and the shape of UK air power and naval forces, so let’s think about how to get rid of them.

Yes, of course it will be possible to maintain an independent air force of fewer than 250 aircraft. The question is one of how much sense it makes in terms of the training and support establishment to run separate organisations for the services. Which comes back to the original point I made of whether a RN-RAF amalgamation might make sense in a time of extended stringency.

What I find interesting is the aggressively negative psychological impact such a proposal generates from so many readers. This blog is supposed to deal with the future and the different ways in which defence may develop, but we seem to have an awful lot of dyed-in-the wool conservatives who think the UK is still living in a Cold War world where funding is plentiful and change is bad, bad, bad. Why is there so much reluctance to rationally discuss the possibility that we may have to get by with much smaller forces than in the past? Other countries have this problem too, and I suspect we may see some pretty radical and unexpected changes in the coming two decades, many of which would have been unthinkable even 5 years ago.

Now how about a rational and measured answer instead of the blah, blah, I can shout louder than you responses?

Jeremy M H
April 2, 2013 2:58 pm

@Fatman

Again you have stated what might happen if the UK simply stops purchasing tactical aircraft after buying its initial batch of F-35’s. That is well and good and certain possible. People have disagreed with you on that but not loudly.

What people have objected to is the idea that the RAF should be folded into the Army or the RN. Nothing in what you posted above really makes a relevant argument for doing so and you failed to address the key questions behind the issue you raised.

What is the benefit of getting rid of the RAF? If you just bolt its various parts onto the Army or Navy do you really save money?

I said the following in regards to this earlier.

“I don’t see any justification for folding the RAF into the RN (which I guess is marginally sensible on some level) or into the Army (which is bonkers). The application of modern air power is a very complicated activity that takes a lifetime of study to be proficient at. The USN gets away with it by having a large enough aviation component that they have their own institutional understanding of the subject (and in some areas have more expertise than the USAF).

Folding the RAF into another service would provide almost no benefit and a lot of headaches. You would either have to create a bunch of new officer positions to preserve the institutional capabilities and knowledge the RAF already has or risk losing it. If you create the necessary positions your net savings becomes very small indeed.”

You have not addressed the implied question or really explained what benefit you are seeking by folding the RAF into other services. Where are the cost savings? How are they going to be achieved? How much redundancy do you really see out there?

Mark
Mark
April 2, 2013 3:00 pm

Fatman

Rivet joint gone before 2030? I’m afraid you’ll have to explain that one, 2045 was the osd mentioned as they’re essentially now pooled with the US fleet.

I notice typhoon is also missing from your list odd considering the last wont be delivered till 2018 and much change to support contracts ect over the last 12 months have changed the dynamic some what. Even if typhoon is replaced by f35 the numbers will be higher than 40-50 and if finances are as bad as you suggest the simple answer is not to buy f35 at all.

Chris.B
Chris.B
April 2, 2013 8:45 pm

@ Fatman,

“I am not suggesting the UK is another Somalia, but this country is clearly in relative economic decline compared with many others ”
— Not really. The economy is stagnating to some degree, but many top economies are doing even worse (Spain, Italy, etc) and some have difficult times ahead when their growth bubbles finally burst (China – though their new administration is changing tack slightly to deal wih that). Relatively speaking we’re doing pretty well considering how badly the broad economy has been mishandled over the last 10 years.

“Well, all I can say is that if you look at the RAF of 1990 and its strength and compare it with 2013 you can easily see which way the trend is going”
— The forces of 1990 were shaped to counter a large threat. We spent more as a percentage of GDP on defence through those cold years than the US does on defence now. The removal, or at least withdrawl of that threat, has permitted reductions but now we’re sitting at around the NATO mandated minimum.

“The question is one of how much sense it makes in terms of the training and support establishment to run separate organisations for the services”
— You’ll still need to train pilots. You still need squadrons to organise the aircraft. You still need bases to house the aircraft and their crews. You still need the crews to operate the aircraft and keep them in service. You still need people to train those specialities. You still need experienced people to arrange and advise on the purchase of new equipment. You still need people to test and evaluate that equipment. In short, you save very, very little.

“What I find interesting is the aggressively negative psychological impact such a proposal generates from so many readers. This blog is supposed to deal with the future and the different ways in which defence may develop, but we seem to have an awful lot of dyed-in-the wool conservatives who think the UK is still living in a Cold War world where funding is plentiful and change is bad, bad, bad. Why is there so much reluctance to rationally discuss the possibility that we may have to get by with much smaller forces than in the past?”
— Because this has been disussed multiple times, and multiple times it always comes out the same way. There’s been people come here holding your view, very adamant that the navy and air force should be amalgamated, who have been convinced that it’s not viable.

Generally speaking when to go to a forum somewhere with an idea or question, it’s customary to have at least a cursory search through the site first to find out if your question has previously been asked/answered.

Now back to your list of aircraft. As Mark pointed out, Rivet Joint is not even in service yet and has a projected OSD past 2040, but you’ve written it off before 2030? Why? You’ve written off all the Typhoons, despite clear indications that we, as a nation, are keen to get the absolute most life out of equipment as we possibly can. And you’ve discarded the possibility of a replacement because… ? If all you do is buy 50 F-35 for home defence then you now have no carrier capability, which is unlikely. Current plans forsee aircraft for the carriers plus a Tornado replacement.

And yet, at the same time as casting those realities aside, you’ve plugged in 20-40 UAVs which at the minute is by no means anything more than a concept, with nothing like a firm order in place.

That’s why I find it hard to believe you’re a “defence economist”, because your answers seem to show little understanding of economics beyond what can be read in the papers, and little understanding of defence either.

eaglemmoomin
eaglemmoomin
April 2, 2013 8:53 pm

Fatman since you mentioned being a defence economist are you embedded within the treasury or Abbey Wood; are you inadvertently giving us the hot scoop on SDSR 2015 and force structures and capabilities? If so I expect giving away ‘secrets’ like a leaky sieve will have the rozzers round and with words like contravening, offcical, secrets, act, investigation, formal report and so forth?

Personally I have to agree with Jeremy M H. Your doomsday scenario just is not likely purely from an industrial economic point of view. Bae, Thales, Lockheed, Augusta Westland, Northrup, EADS, MBDA would all be lobbying vociferously to prevent that using words like site closure, realignment and so forth. Are you seriously saying after the governent, which has made a major song and dance about retaining key capabilities and increasing sales of technology and platforms, via export orders would kill the very high tech industry (jobs) that enables that and put yet more strain on the economy.

Especially as these companies are already laying off people, closing sites and co-locating in other areas due to the pre-existing cuts and draw down in procurement.

Or maybe the treasury and/or Abbey Wood are even dumber than I realised?

Challenger
Challenger
April 2, 2013 10:53 pm

It’s interesting that TD talks about collapsing FAA/AAC resources into the RAF.

I came to this site over a year ago with the firm belief that the RAF had a structure and remit that was somehow intrinsically inefficient and unworkable. I was convinced that whilst the total disbandment of the RAF was an extreme measure, it would serve the defence needs of the country and the effectiveness of the Armed Forces far better to carve off sizeable lumps and hand them over to the FAA/ACC, so Chinook’s to the Army, F35 to the Royal Navy and so on.

Whilst I still think the RAF could do with a degree of infrastructure and personnel restructuring alongside some evaluation on the remit and doctrinal scope/practices of the entire Armed Forces I am increasingly coming round to the aforementioned point of view.

Regardless of preference, or bias or whatever you want to call it the fact is that (as Chris.B. pointed out) the RAF has a long-standing tradition and infrastructure which supports complex training, maintenance, upgrades, evaluation and active deployments that the Army and Royal Navy can’t hope to rival with the AAC and FAA, for the very simple reason (as someone recently pointed out) that they are support arms to they’re parent services, not independent air-forces.

I don’t think the way forwards is to disband or amalgamate either the RAF, AAC or FAA. However perhaps a solution when pondering the balance between the three is to define and then respect a line between those airframes that purely assist the parent service (so RN Merlin’s and Army Lynx’s) and those which have a more flexible, ‘strategic’ (for want of a better word) role and so belong with an independent RAF.

Just some thoughts on my current attitude to the whole debate. I have to add that of course defining the line between who is entitled to what is a whole other debate that deserves a lot of extra detailed discussion if the principle I discussed above was one that people could run with.

WiseApe
April 3, 2013 4:37 pm

“This makes me think we get better value by collapsing the AAC and FAA into the RAF rather than the other way around.” – I could certainly live with that, provided the RAF could be persuaded to regard fulfilling these roles as part of its core responsibilities, not just “helping out” the army/navy.

My concern, as a layman looking at how others do this, is that no other nation (except China, where EVERYTHING is army) forms its maritime air from its land based (if you follow me) airforce. There is obviously a good reason for this, not just tradition. And then of course there’s the USMC who seem to be a law unto themselves.

Edit – There’s also the fact, as Fatman pointed out, that the RAF is shrinking. A future which includes single seat F35s and UCAVs might persuade the RAF to take carrier air more seriously if they are actually going to provide the bulk of manpower in any “surge” like operation, or even just major exercises.

Peter
Peter
April 27, 2013 10:36 am

@Fatman.
Regarding your comment that it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain the standpoint that only an independent air force is capable of understanding and fulfilling airpower strategy. Your view would logically also apply to maritime strategy. For example, If youre argument is valid, then you appear to be saying that it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain the standpoint that only an independent naval force is capable of understanding and fulfilling maritime power strategy.

I agree with you about economies of scale. For example, as the RAF steadily shrinks towards the size of the Danish Air Force, it would make economic sense to absorb the AAC into the RAF. – in fact this is basically what Denmark (and also Germany) is doing. i.e transferring much of their army aviation assets to their air force.

I also think that you have a good point about transforming RAF Regiment into an air commando force. As you probably know, the French have this sort of organisation, i,e the French Air Force equivalent of the RAF Regiment are known as “air commando’s”.