Will the Tories Axe the RAF?

Who knows. But as the scale of cuts needed is vast, it is a good question.

"The idea of a Conservative government closing the Royal Air Force sounds unthinkable, doesn’t it? And I am sure such a suggestion would be dismissed by the Tory defence team and the party’s campaign HQ.

But we live in an age when ideas which seem outlandish to the political class one minute become mainstream orthodoxy just a few months later. Today talk of spending cuts is suddenly everywhere in Britain. A year, or 18 months ago, they were advocated by just a handful of commentators. We were told we were being alarmist.

Now, take the question of defence spending. Hawks are going to have to face up to reality. There are going to have to be cuts and it is inconceivable that they can be avoided in defence. Even though David Cameron has ring-fenced spending on the NHS and overseas aid (a mistake on both counts, in my view) he has given no such a guarantee on spending related to the defence of the realm. Instead, the question is where cuts in the £36.9 billion defence budget (2010-11) will fall.

It has long been the dirty little secret of the U.K. defence establishment that a way to streamline the command structure, reduce duplication and slash costs is to close the RAF. There are two options for how it could be done:

1) Abolish the traditional three services and switch to a single marine corps model, with all three services effectively merging under new leadership. Or, 2) Split the RAF’s capacity between the two remaining services, giving the army the lift and delivery components and the navy responsibility for the strike capability, meaning fighters etc.

A thoughtful Brigadier of my acquaintance, who favours option 1, says that inside the MoD there is a growing acceptance that the existing three service model is too expensive and unsustainable. Not a soul will say this in public, yet."



Book Reviewer
I saw this on the Spectator site - interesting....

Firstly, given some of the possible savings that I've heard being suggested for the next year, it will take something as big as this to even begin to achieve them. We are looking at a bankrupt Government, and, despite the media spin, cutting Defence will still lose less voters than closing Hospitals.

Plus points - as pointed out there already, the US Marines are bigger than our RN + Army + RAF, and they seem to do pretty well, with fast air, Air Tpt, Helis (lots and lots and lots.............) and a good ethos. No-one could say their model doesn't work.

Without radical ideas like this, we are in danger of having all the "Royal Yacht-type-savings" taken - with a major impact on all Services (The RY saving is a famous example - for several years in succession the RN put up Britannia every year as a possible savings measure, in the sure and certain knowledge that no-one would take it......... But someone did, and the rest is history :) Mind you, it cost John Major a Peerge, allegedly.

It is, though, probably a step too far at the moment. What else can be done? Well, not the off-the-cuff nonsense that we've heard so far from that eejit Osborne, that's for sure.
Even if the UK wasn't poorer than a Frenchman living next door to a brothel, its still a good idea to split battlefield lift/CAS and tactical transport from strike and reconnaissance functions.
You can imagine the utter outrage the RAF will feel if the boys in Blue had to wear Green, it's just too funny.
The RAF don't know how to use axes. They don't like getting dirty.


Book Reviewer
I would leave the RAF with (a) transport but with a directive to farm it out to the trade wherever possible, the way we always used to do for trooping, and (b) the air defence of the UK so that most of them can sit in Linconshire in an MQ until they draw their pension, which is what they jopined for. Top Crab should then only be three star. ALL air support of expeditionary warfare and all helo activities save what belongs best to the AAC (who should keep their bit) should go to the RN. Then you will get what you want, when you want it, the way you did in Borneo. Eventually that might get us to the point where we recover the ability to provide air support to amphibious warfare, which we don't have since the sea Harrers were scrapped; we cannot today do an opposed landing except with US support! To make this work means scrub round the VSTOL J35 because what is the value of toting all the extra engine kit around the sky instead of fuel or weapons? Implies equipping the new carriers from scratch with catapults and wires so that their aircraft can have more adequate range/payload. Some loose ends there but this is a post, not a PhD thesis.
Given that the raf was the bastard child of the RFC and the RN then it is only right that it's assets are given back to the Armed Forces. My fingers (and toes) are very firmly crossed.
I can just see Cameron at the cenotaph now,in the early morning mist,flanked by the heros from the battle of Britain and their families.

It would make the Gurkhas fiasco look like sound political manouvering,he would be better off relaxing peadophillia laws.

Edit to add....I found this an interesting piece Army chief General Sir David Richards says ships and jets no longer the answer

It would seem he is singing off the same songsheet as Ken Connor in his book Ghost force (top read btw)
No.1 Kite & Balloon Squadron,Royal Engineers,did a splendid job.Not an Air VICE Marshall,or REAR Admiral in sight!Number of Ruperts in the Services would be reduced enough to buy plenty of decent AFV's & heli's!
As we go round this buoy again...

No, they won't.

Even allowing for the fact that they have the 'It's the last lot's fault' card to play, binning one of the armed services is too politically problematic.

However, amalgamating the services (the journo's option 1) is less problematic.

Why? Well, you get rid of a whole host of expensive one- and two-stars. The RN, for instance, has 80 Commodores (which is 20 more than the RN itself actually thinks it requires). You can probably find an equally large number of light blue and Army 1*, whose positions could easily be amalgamated as you go to a Royal Defence Force.

Second, you have the serious risk that a large number of experience, 30-something RAF NCOs will decide that they're not donning dark blue or green uniform, thank you - they joined the RAF, have hit their pension point and are now off somewhere else. The recession might stem this tide, but you then run into the risk of serious morale problems.

Third, the beancounters can - and do - note that in the grand scheme of things (as measured by those who count beans) Regiments are less efficient than Corps. So, if you are proud of your regiment, watch that get sacrificed on the altar of Mamon. Stuff ethos, heritage, tradition, evidence that says that beancounting efficiency and the efficiency that the regimental system has brought to the actual business of closing with the enemy - value doesn't matter, it's cost.

Fourth - the plans are there to amalgamate the RN into the RAF (they come from the late 1950s). You go down to two services, but because the RAF's operating environment covers 100% of the globe, plus space, and because the crabs are the larger service, you end up with an amalgamated force.Called something like the Royal Naval & Air Force, dominated by crabs (because the carriers become floating airfields rather than power projection ships), and with what's left of the fleet being used to support carrier strike operations...

Don't give me stuff about Nelson, tradition, heritage, the UK's being a maritime nation, etc, etc - it's about cost and all beancounters know that you amalgamate the smaller concern into the larger. I'm sure the crabs would happily adopt the RN uniform, though...

Oh, and the PM's (assuming it's DC) constituency contains large numbers of voters who are currently in the RAF, ex-RAF or family members of the RAF, and - as Lyneham closes - will get more current members of the RAF living there. Is the PM therefore going to irritate them by binning their service?

Fifth, the Tories may not do this, but may ask (not for the first time) why each service operates aircraft. Why not (they will ask, as Churchill did when Sec of State for War and Air) have all air assets under the control of the service which has spent the last 90 years doing nothing else other than operate aeroplanes and more recently helicopters. Not as great a cost saving, but it brings in efficiencies, and - by amalgamating the AAC into the RAF (with apologies to Bad CO and Flashy...) you instantly bring NCO pilots back to the air force, and transfer these competent and dashing chaps onto Typhoon (all nine airframes).

So perhaps the Tories will fulfil the wishes of some posters here - but be very careful what you wish for, because all the signs are that while you'll cheer as the RAF disappears, you'll be a tad upset when your service goes with it and you become part of some incohate purple mass...

Following on from Seaweed's post, not a PhD thesis line, rather than go into more detail, I suggest digging out the posts Magic Mushroom has made every time this gets brought up.
I agree that the application of air power needs a dedicated service but all three services need serious reform, across all activities. The MoD needs to look at itself in a very critical way as well.

Both procurement and operational performance has been seriously lacking in several areas for over a decade and its not just about money or too many civil servants or meddling politicians. We have become far too comfortable with blaming politicians and civil servants for the failings of all three services

Hard times ahead

Serious reform needed
RangeStew said:
The RAF don't know how to use axes. They don't like getting dirty.
Talking kak part of your CV then?

So how the hell do you cut one of these up then?

or one of these?

or even one of these

Blue/GreenJob said:
RangeStew said:
The RAF don't know how to use axes. They don't like getting dirty.
Talking kak part of your CV then?

So how the hell do you cut one of these up then?

or one of these?

or even one of these

Get the Libyans to do it.
The engineering skills of the RAF, rather than use the correct tools to cut up an aircraft we will just smack it with an axe and see what happens!

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