RAF Brize Norton - Questions in Parliament

Even Nick Soames is into bashing the RAF and Movers, Go Nick Go!!

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex) (Con): said:
I want to mention some very particular points. I want the Minister, if he would be so kind, to examine with care how we deploy our troops out of this country. The standard of service provided by the Royal Air Force is not nearly good enough. My noble Friend Lord Astor raised the matter in the Lords last week, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth) has raised it with the Chief of the Air Staff. It is frankly inexcusable—I repeat inexcusable—that soldiers going to and from active duty should be treated in such a deplorable and casual manner. There is a form of insanity in the MOD that seems to permit that to happen.

Why should soldiers, who have been carefully vetted and highly trained and who are on their way to operational duties in extremely dangerous parts of the world, have to turn up at RAF Brize Norton 12 hours before they take off? It is absolutely absurd. How is it possible that young men and women, who, having completed the most arduous tours, may be back on brief periods of leave, should find themselves having to sit around Basra airport, sometimes for several days, in gross conditions and with inadequate facilities when they have a confirmed flight, simply because there is no seat for them? It is unacceptable, and the Minister has it in his power to fix the matter, which is what he needs to do.
The whole debate is on Hansard Armed Forces Personnel Debate There are many other good questions asked but I warn you, it is quite a trawl!
Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex) (Con): said:
sit around Basra airport, sometimes for several days
surely "for 6 months"?

in gross conditions and with inadequate facilities
I liked the 70s decor and the little souvenir shop.

when they have a confirmed flight,
you know its never confirmed with crab air until you leave your final destination.
The Crabs are now using C130s to get you out of BAS - this seems pretty reliable.

The biggest problem was with the civvy charter. We were delayed for 12 hours, and then couldn't take off with all our luggage because it was too hot for the plane to get airborne.

Oh.. and they make you sit in the plane at Teeside for a few hours.

I think Fatty might be referring to the experiences on TELIC 6, where there were some real shockers caused by the reliance on Tristars. I honestly think the service is pretty good now.
I think Fatty Soames does the RAF a disservice. The problem is not that the RAF are being difficult, but that like much of the army they are having to do a lot with very little. The strategic AT fleet consists of VC-10s (over 40 years old) and TriStars (already old when MOD bought them secondhand). Given the age of these a/c it is no surprise that they regularly go u/s. All the RAF people I know who deal with AT are as frustrated as everyone else about this situation.

During my RAF career I was regularly delayed because passengers turned up late, or ignored the DAC regs (imposed by the govt/CAA, not the RAF), or didn't have their documentation. I've also sat for hours at South Cerney, Brize and Basra waiting for delayed flights - it's incredibly annoying and frustrating, but most of the responsibility must be borne by the politicians whose failure to ensure adequate funding and procurement of timely replacements for aging a/c - just remind me who one of the Ministers for Defence was at the time - that'll be Fatty Soames, then.

Nowadays, the situation is compounded by the current government's failure to adequately resource troop movements. It could be easily resolved in many cases by flying chartered a/c into Kuwait and either bussing or heli/herc lifts from Iraq, or by leasing a/c and mobilising some of the RAuxAF AT pilots who currently work for BA, Air 2000 et al.

I used to have time for Soames, but of late he seems to be basing his opinions on his own short service as a junior officer in the cavalry 30+ years ago, and doesn't seem to have understood that times have changed.

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