Looking at the various 'inspired' leaks that are filling the newspapers at the moment, it seems a fairly certain bet, that one option to be put forward is to delete the C130J towards the end of the decade, and run on with the A400M buy as the sole tactical transport. This will leave us with a fleet of approximately 20-24 tactical airlift airframes from 2012, when the C130K hits OSD and we only have the Js left in service. (Plus 7 C17s, which I don't believe we use for parachute work?) Now, working from the assumption that I have no knowledge on requirements for aviation when it comes to paratroops, my question is this: Will 22 airframes from 2012 allow the UK to retain a 2 Bn plus supporting elements airlift capability to conduct parachute drops? (Or is it just one of the three Para Bns air roled at present?) From my perspective, airframes will be like gold dust soon, and with only 24 Js left, and assuming 25% in refit or U/S, plus one in FI, plus a small training margin (3 frames?), I think the UK will only have 14 Hercules available for operations at any one time. Given this, does this impending cut in transport aircraft mean that the UK has effectively decided to abandon maintaining a the ability to deliver a large military parachute force by stealth, or will there still be enough airframes to do the job if required? From where Im sitting it feels as if the RAF have managed to kill off the Parachute regiments raison detre without so much as a whisper from the army? This isn't about the value of the Parachute Regiment (thats been done to death), this is about whether we've ended up having their hand forced to be taken out of role by cuts to the RAF.