Does the RAF have a future as an independent service?

ugly

LE
Moderator
Following on from the thread "does the RAF Regiment have a future, rather than get involved in the current derailment perhaps the question should be asked does the RAF have an independent future. Simply put much of the flying training could be centralised, the RAF could be absorbed into the Navy and would any of us mind or even notice?
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
Oh joy, this old chestnut again..........
Which is exactly how I feel when the rock ape bashing starts. Lets face it if the govt could have a part time defence force they would!
|This thread could lead to another regarding a joint single service, if we are supposed to be good at expeditionary warfare then this would make sense.
 
Given the extent to which the RAF has been corporatised already, ie, the prospect is that the RAF will have so few of it's own techs working on it's own aircraft, that it will restrict it's ability to go overseas in an offensive role.
 

W P

LE
This debate is now over a hundred years old & it will never end. Unless some monstrous Hellyer-style tri-service amalgamation happens in the meantime I think the increasing prevalence of UAVs will probably seal the deal eventually. It's a fun subject in any case (unless you're an airman of course, in which case it's a horrific heresy). Some years ago I came across some Yanks discussing it in relation to the USAF. The suggestion was that responsibility for space, ICBMs & some other long-range stuff could be given to the USN & the rest to the Army. (Oddly they didn't mention the USMC, either in the context of whether it should be disestablished too or as a recipient of USAF capabilities.)
 
No regiment, corps, service will last forever, that is a sad proven fact. If the time comes that the RAF is no longer fit for purpose be it lack of funding,manpower, airworthy assets etc, it makes sense that their role to be split between the Army and RN. Fixed wing goes to RN and bulk of rotary to the Army.
 
I hear shares in leading hotel brands went south after this thread was opened.

Seriously though, how much RAF is there left?. Fast jet squadrons-down to 7, SAR choppers, gone, MPA 9 aircraft on order, these could easily become part of the RN, the SHF helicopters to the army.
 
The tired, lightweight and lacking in analysis 'SH to the Army, FJ to the Navy' arguments represent some of the many clear reasons why you need independent Air Forces.

Anyone remember March 2006, when the mighty SHAR (PBUH) exited service? I seem to recall a raging torrent of silence when it was suggested, internally by FAA senior officers amongst the RN, that money may be found from 'elsewhere' (cutting RM numbers, MCMV or whatever) to keep Sharkey's beloved going. Likewise in 2010, the RN firmly discounted the option of extending the GR9 on a single Service basis, which to be fair they didn't have the pilots for anyway.

I offer these up as reasons why the 'FJ to RN' piece doesn't hold water (pun intended). An external observer might come to the conclusion that their corporate heart is not 110% in the FJ game; as mentioned in other threads I attended a brief at the then HQ STRIKE where the SRNO (1*, great bloke) said, in public audience 'We don't really care who flies off the things, we just want the carriers'. To be fair, they are a maritime warfare focussed Service, for whom air/aviation is a secondary or tertiary activity.

Likewise the AAC, I have worked in the Joint Staff arena with numerous AAC blokes (and indeed in the operational environment in TELIC / HERRICK). Some of the 'loyalties' exposed towards the wider Army CoC by those blokes (and vice versa) were quite breathtaking.

For my tuppence worth, it boils down to simply this. Members of the Army & RN (Services for whom air / aviation is a secondary or tertiary activity) look, with an ill-informed eye, at what the RAF do and conclude 'The AAC / Navy could do that'. Part of it is Crab-baiting, we expect (and revel in) that. However, as we progress and advance in aviation technology, the air domain will become an ever more important part of the operating environment.

I offer that what is much more likely, in years to come, is that assets from the niche aviation organisations of the RN / Army may subsume into the RAF as time goes on (and possibly the RM / RAF Regt may subsume into the Army). Timescales I don't know, but there is much precedent for this elsewhere; the RNLAF have operated their AH & SH for decades, likewise the RCAF, BAC, RDAF, RNoAF, Swedish Air Force, IAF, SAAF and RNZAF have done the SH / shipborne ASW & ASuW role for similar periods.
 
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dan_brown

War Hero
I was Aldershot for a week recently. All i saw was soldiers sat outside armouries cleaning weapons and people off on runs or fat biffs on forced PT. Don't get me started on the local 'nightlife'. The home of the British Army eh?

Yet, go to a RAF unit you will find pilots in briefings or up in the sky clocking up hours. Techies working on world class aircraft. Scuffers covering CI, SI, MWD, GPD etc where it takes the army several different trades.

The Army most definitely has a role as does the Navy and RAF, but can the RAF be absorbed? No, we have our skill-sets and leadership methods. We do not need to be kept busy as we have actual real work to be done.
 
I was Aldershot for a week recently. All i saw was soldiers sat outside armouries cleaning weapons and people off on runs or fat biffs on forced PT. Don't get me started on the local 'nightlife'. The home of the British Army eh?

Yet, go to a RAF unit you will find pilots in briefings or up in the sky clocking up hours. Techies working on world class aircraft. Scuffers covering CI, SI, MWD, GPD etc where it takes the army several different trades.

The Army most definitely has a role as does the Navy and RAF, but can the RAF be absorbed? No, we have our skill-sets and leadership methods. We do not need to be kept busy as we have actual real work to be done.
Aldershot ceased to be 'The home of the British Army' many years ago. They just forgot to take down the signs.
To see a proper unit at work, you would need to be present during an exercise or deployment. You may has well have gone to RAF Henlow or Stafford as a comparison.

Oh and if the RAF are practicing 24/7....have their helicopter pilots been cleared to fly in rain or slightly damp conditions yet? The lazy, useless gits. :)
 
I was Aldershot for a week recently. All i saw was soldiers sat outside armouries cleaning weapons and people off on runs or fat biffs on forced PT. Don't get me started on the local 'nightlife'. The home of the British Army eh?

Yet, go to a RAF unit you will find pilots in briefings or up in the sky clocking up hours. Techies working on world class aircraft. Scuffers covering CI, SI, MWD, GPD etc where it takes the army several different trades.

The Army most definitely has a role as does the Navy and RAF, but can the RAF be absorbed? No, we have our skill-sets and leadership methods. We do not need to be kept busy as we have actual real work to be done.
I used to love the RAF.

They used to give us rides all over South Armagh when we were conducting operations against PIRA. And of course when we need a major resupply at XMG or Forkhill, two bases pretty much cut off from everybody else because of the culvert mine threat, you could rely on the RAF to deliver the goodies.

Then of course the RAF were very happy to give us a lift to NI from Germany for our 1973 tour and they even took us back home again.

An RAF VC10 took us to Guyana in 1975 and an RAF Hercules returned us to the UK several weeks later. Most uncomfortable ride ever, I have to say.

In 1976, the RAF took us to Cyprus where we carried out a UN peacekeeping tour and again, they brought us home.

The travel for the other NI tours are done by the RFA cos we are UK based by then.

That stuff you saw at Aldershot like cleaning weapons and running etc would have been soldiers ensuring that when they are sent to places to, you know, do soldiering stuff, the weapons were fit for purpose and they themselves were also fit for purpose!

Of course, my time in the mob was a long time ago back in the seventies. There's been a whole encyclopaedia of stuff happened since I was around and a lot of it has been really exceptionally heavy crap but, we all know that when the army is needed to be taken somewhere to close with the enemy and engage him, you know, face to face, the RAF will be happy to get the army where it needs to be!
 
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I hear shares in leading hotel brands went south after this thread was opened.

Seriously though, how much RAF is there left?. Fast jet squadrons-down to 7, SAR choppers, gone, MPA 9 aircraft on order, these could easily become part of the RN, the SHF helicopters to the army.
Same old arguments come up, the MPA and SHF funding would get diverted into Frigates and keeeping a cap badge alive. And on and on and on...
 
These ideas can sometimes seem like a great idea over a few drinks, and to be honest I think that there will come a time in the next 20-30 years that what we now think of as 3 separate forces will effectively be just the one, even if they just share one overall command structure and the same shade of dress uniform.

However the key issue is that very little in government or higher military planning changes for the better. If amalgamation was forced upon the forces, do you really think it would be to make it a more effective fighting force? Or would it be as a massive and stealthy hack and slash of the defense budget?

And even if the intentions were noble (never happen), we have seen so many public sector projects go to total ratshit that what we would end up with would be the very, very worst option. Some poor bloke dressed in Guardsmans red tunic (sleeves rolled up), blue jean collar, desert camouflage trousers, DMS boot on right foot, flip flop on left, RAF chip hat hat and a third Globe and Laurel, third Sigs, third Parachute regiment cap badge.

He/she would be barely trained in drone operations, basic fieldcraft and how to paddle a Klepper. In effect the exact representation of "Jack of all trades, master of none".

"Jointism" was a big deal in the 90's, no idea what happened to it or if it succeeded. Amalgamation? I doubt it will be anything other than a bag of shite.
 

Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
The tired, lightweight and lacking in analysis 'SH to the Army, FJ to the Navy' arguments represent some of the many clear reasons why you need independent Air Forces.

Anyone remember March 2006, when the mighty SHAR (PBUH) exited service? I seem to recall a raging torrent of silence when it was suggested, internally by FAA senior officers amongst the RN, that money may be found from 'elsewhere' (cutting RM numbers, MCMV or whatever) to keep Sharkey's beloved going. Likewise in 2010, the RN firmly discounted the option of extending the GR9 on a single Service basis, which to be fair they didn't have the pilots for anyway.

I offer these up as reasons why the 'FJ to RN' piece doesn't hold water (pun intended). An external observer might come to the conclusion that their corporate heart is not 110% in the FJ game; as mentioned in other threads I attended a brief at the then HQ STRIKE where the SRNO (1*, great bloke) said, in public audience 'We don't really care who flies off the things, we just want the carriers'. To be fair, they are a maritime warfare focussed Service, for whom air/aviation is a secondary or tertiary activity.

Likewise the AAC, I have worked in the Joint Staff arena with numerous AAC blokes (and indeed in the operational environment in TELIC / HERRICK). Some of the 'loyalties' exposed towards the wider Army CoC by those blokes (and vice versa) were quite breathtaking.

For my tuppence worth, it boils down to simply this. Members of the Army & RN (Services for whom air / aviation is a secondary or tertiary activity) look, with an ill-informed eye, at what the RAF do and conclude 'The AAC / Navy could do that'. Part of it is Crab-baiting, we expect (and revel in) that. However, as we progress and advance in aviation technology, the air domain will become an ever more important part of the operating environment. I offer that what is much more likely, in years to come, is that assets from the niche aviation organisations of the RN / Army may subsume into the RAF as time goes on (and possibly the RM / RAF Regt may subsume into the Army). Timescales I don't know, but there is much precedent for this elsewhere; the RNLAF have operated their AH & SH for decades, likewise the RCAF, RDAF, RNoAF, Swedish Air Force, IAF and RNZAF have done the SH / shipborne ASW & ASuW role for similar periods.
God I hate to say this.... but I agree. Shudder.....

Aviation in the RN is a key maritime warfare capability and something we hold at the core of our business. But that is one small part of the wider aviation domain. In an ideal world of unlimited budgets then having the MPA fleet under Navy Command would be great, but it becomes difficult to provide a varied career field as well as limiting your echelon support to a narrow career field. You then have an inward looking group. Much better for the MPA crews to have RAF as lead but provide capability across the whole of the Joint Environment.

Key areas such as ASuW and ASW helos (Wildcat and Merlin) do benefit staying within the RN world as we see far greater cross pollination. For example plenty of ASW pilots and observers go on to do PWO course and stay in main stream maritime to ship command. This provides a core of aviation specialists in the generalist stream to ensure the maritime air domain remains at the fore front of thinking. Amphibious SH is a tricky one but having worked closely with RAF and RN SH groups there is a more focused thinking in the maritime for the RN units. They were the same uniform and have the same core beliefs. I still find having all SH under the Army as strange and one that should change.

Personally I think army aviation should move over to the RAF. Aviation is just not a core capability with sufficient leadership across all parts of the Army. Maybe have the attack helicopter pilot trade open to sideways entry from across the Military. UAS/UAVs should be RAF as well, I don't get how RA can seriously consider themselves a competent aviation authority.....

Everything else RAF.

My caution in maritime aviation moving to the RAF is the lessons from the RCAF. I see close up each day where that has presented problems that is causing operational issues as well as low level interoperability concerns on simple things like what technical specification for radios should exist or what does a maritime SQEP really mean. And don't start me on the basic level of fire fighting training.......
 
well I know this is nothing more than a bite...and I shouldn't really... but

Oh for goodness sake!

Who is going to do (tac)ATC on deployed ops?
What about the comms, the various radars, and beacons that support an active airfield?
Who will do the specialist air parts resupply in war zones?
Who's going to plan and do the round robin in-theatre lift?
What about MERT, airCasevac, CSAR?
What about armourers who know all about the weapons fits onto aircraft?
And the techs who do the avionics, and engines, and propulsion, and control surfaces
etc etc.

Check out all the roles that the modern RAF perform. Will the Army and Navy have the SQEP to do this or will it be grown overnight?

If you want PMC to do all this, are you going to pay through the nose for the readiness they will be on, and the danger money they will demand?

Far from becoming irrelevant, the RAF is on an upward trajectory (excuse the pun) with its recent announcement of leadership of Space and Cyber.

Pointless question - this shouldn't be in the 'Serious Bit' - to the hole!
 
God I hate to say this.... but I agree. Shudder.....

Aviation in the RN is a key maritime warfare capability and something we hold at the core of our business. But that is one small part of the wider aviation domain. In an ideal world of unlimited budgets then having the MPA fleet under Navy Command would be great, but it becomes difficult to provide a varied career field as well as limiting your echelon support to a narrow career field. You then have an inward looking group. Much better for the MPA crews to have RAF as lead but provide capability across the whole of the Joint Environment.
My understanding from opposite numbers who play the MPA game (MR2 / P-3 / P-8) is that, counter-intuitively, those operators from the relevant Air Forces (RAF,RNoAF, RAAF, RNZAF, ESP AF) are more on top of their game than their naval counterparts (Aeronavale, USN, ITA Naval Aviation) with the exception, when they existed, of the RNLN P-3 fleet. And don't get me started on the DEU Navy, who use the 10 P3s they bought from the NL Govt in 2006 as a very expensive coastal surveillance asset; limited to zero ASW capability.


Key areas such as ASuW and ASW helos (Wildcat and Merlin) do benefit staying within the RN world as we see far greater cross pollination. For example plenty of ASW pilots and observers go on to do PWO course and stay in main stream maritime to ship command. This provides a core of aviation specialists in the generalist stream to ensure the maritime air domain remains at the fore front of thinking. Amphibious SH is a tricky one but having worked closely with RAF and RN SH groups there is a more focused thinking in the maritime for the RN units. They were the same uniform and have the same core beliefs. I still find having all SH under the Army as strange and one that should change.
How do the RAN / RNZN / RCN skin the 'cross-pollination' concern? Do they have the same 'pilot-to-PWO' option that we do? This is viewed in crustacean quarters as an extremely expensive way of providing aviation-minded skippers!!

Ref the Amphibious SH issue, the Chinook Force have proven themselves time & again operating off Ocean, Albion etc, providing a greater lift capability due to the inherent strength of the aircraft.


I presume that by "having all SH under the Army" you mean the ocean-going clusterf**k that is JHC? If so, you'll hear no argument from anyone in the RAF SHF or RN CHF, I'm sure.

My caution in maritime aviation moving to the RAF is the lessons from the RCAF. I see close up each day where that has presented problems that is causing operational issues as well as low level interoperability concerns on simple things like what technical specification for radios should exist or what does a maritime SQEP really mean. And don't start me on the basic level of fire fighting training.......
Mates of mine from years ago now fly Cormorant, Cyclone and Aurora for the RCAF. Their views just don't match the 'RCN can't get air support when they need it' argument.
 
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