Today’s defence related stories includes coverage of the Defence Secretary’s announcements on opening the RAF Regiment up to women for the first time and new Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
RAF to allow women in close combat roles ahead of schedule
There’s widespread coverage across the papers today on the Defence Secretary's announcement at the annual Air Power Conference yesterday that women will be allowed to take up close combat roles in the RAF Regiment from September. The Times,The Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Herald, The Daily Record, and The Sun all report on the Defence Secretary’s comments that the decision is ‘a defining moment for the RAF’. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier’s comments that “The RAF is committed to providing equal opportunity to all,” are also carried.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
A diverse force is a more operationally effective force. So I’m delighted that the RAF Regiment will be open to recruitment to women from September. Individuals who are capable of meeting the standards for the regiment will be given the opportunity to serve, regardless of their gender. This is a defining moment for the RAF, as it becomes the first service to have every trade and branch open to both genders.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said:
The RAF is committed to providing equal opportunity to all, so it’s fantastic to be able to open recruitment to the RAF Regiment to women ahead of schedule. We want the best and most talented individuals to join the Air Force, regardless of their gender, race, or background. A diverse force is a more effective force, and we need the best people to deliver the important work we do, be it defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria, or protecting Britain’s skies.
You can read more about the RAF Regiment opening its close combat roles to women here.
New Maritime Patrol Aircraft squadrons
The Scotsman, BBC online and The Herald report on the Defence Secretary’s announcement yesterday on the numbers of the UK’s two new Maritime Patrol Aircraft squadrons and the first commanding officer. Nine new P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft will be operated by number 120 Squadron and number 201 Squadron from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray. Wing Commander James Hanson will oversee the formation of 120 Squadron from April 2018. 201 Squadron will form in 2021. Today’s coverage notes that the two squadrons which will operate the nine new aircraft will defend the UK’s nuclear deterrent and references the fact that one of them is the highest scoring unit from the Second World War.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
Our nine new Poseidon aircraft are part of our plan to monitor and deal with increased threats to our country. They can operate at long range without refueling and have the endurance to carry out high and low-level airborne maritime and overland surveillance for extended periods, helping keep us safe. The P-8A aircraft will allow us to work more closely with our allies, improve our surveillance coverage and will provide value for taxpayers’ money.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said:
Today is an important milestone in the P-8A Poseidon programme which will bring to the Royal Air Force an unrivalled maritime patrol capability. The advanced state-of-the-art sensors aboard the P-8A will provide global protection to UK, NATO and our Allies’ submarines and warships, and enhance and complement the UK’s standing search and rescue responsibilities.
It is also a great pleasure to welcome back 120 and 201 Squadrons. Both have long and distinguished records serving in the maritime role and together they will help forge the next generation Royal Air Force.
You can read more about Britain’s new Maritime Patrol Aircraft here.
Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT)
Attending the annual Royal International Air Tattoo today, the Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has announced a £120 million investment in UK air power.
The Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, said:
These contracts demonstrate our commitment to supporting the UK’s air power, through maintaining battle proven aircraft and training the next generation of fast jet pilots.
This substantial investment will ensure our Air Force can continue to perform at its very best. Backed by our rising defence budget and £178 billion equipment plan, these contracts will create high skilled jobs in Britain and > ensure that our Armed Forces have the best equipment and training available to keep the UK safe.
You can read more about the £120 million investment here.
The Times speculates today on Royal marines winter training.
A MOD Spokesperson said:
It is normal to review training exercises to make sure they are focused on front line concerns and to also look for savings and efficiencies in budget to allow us to support these priorities. No final decision has been made, but with significant deployments around the world, the Royal Marines will be well placed to train and prepare for future operations.
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