RAF Officer: “Shrink the RAF!”

27.05.08

Categorie: Air, Inter-Service Rivalry |

41867188.jpgSome of the most progressive thinking about future air power is happening inside one of the oldest air services, the British Royal Air Force. In a recent issue of Air Forces Monthly, Andrew Brookes, a former fighter pilot, attacked the RAF for preparing for the wrong war. The service’s planned future fleet of nearly 500 fast jets, including 232 advanced Typhoon fighter-bombers (pictured), “is too many,” when the U.K. needs just 84 front-line fighters for “the full range of … operations.”

Brookes advocates cutting Typhoons to just 150, adding an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle similar to the U.S. Navy’s X-47 and bolstering the transport and helicopter fleets, the latter being “essentials” that have been very stretched in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other words, Brookes’ vision for the RAF more closely aligns the service as a support force for the Army. That was their historical relationship, but one that has eroded since World War II, when many bomber advocates from both sides of the Pond imagined, wrongly, that they were winning the war on their own.

Highlighting this folly, last year in a seminal piece for The American Prospect, Robert Farley recommended folding the U.S. Air Force back into the Army. That’ll never happen, of course, but as Brookes states, the RAF (and its closest foreign partner the USAF) would be wise to focus less on building huge fighter fleets for imaginary wars when the real wars we’re already in call for more transports, more choppers, more drones and “think[ing] outside the box,” according to Brookes.

It’s too bad there are no former American fighter pilots with Brookes’ guts, writing articles advocating a major shake-up in USAF priorities. ‘Cause as bad as the RAF needs a reality check, the USAF needs one worse.

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3 Responses to “RAF Officer: “Shrink the RAF!””

  1. ELP says:

    Unfortunately, the only thing the MOD management can show the U.S. is how to destroy what was once a strong and capable military (UK) by endless budget cuts. You are aware aren’t you that the only demonstrated capability the MOD management has displayed is how to destroy and cut the military over the past several years.

  2. James says:

    As a former Jaguar Pilot I don’t disagree with the article per se.
    Andrew Brookes is totally correct in wanting more helo assets at the armies disposal. I totally disagree with him cutting back the fast-jets though.
    The problem is that the RAF fast jet fleet has shrunk yet operational requirements have expanded. The Tornado is a IDS aicraft and totally unsuited to CAS. The Harrier is probably the worst aircraft in the RAF’s inventory with little going for it in modern warfare. The Jaguar faired better but was still using outdated technology.
    In an ideal RAF the Tornado would be providing the strike asset, the Typhoon the attack and the RAF purchasing the A-10 would provide the composite CAS package.
    Brookes is wrong to cut back on air-defence assets when we as an island nation did so heavily early last last century only to be caught off gaurd. The treasury should in-fact be releasing more cashflow to ensure the RAF has the capability to defend our shores.

  3. ant says:

    The RAF is a good deal smaller than the USAF- perhaps a closer analogy might be the air wings of the USN or the USMC. The latter certainly manages to have a very effective CAS oriented force, with oodles of intra theatre transport and yet has the capability to also give a decent amount of top cover and a fair amount of IDS. Just about the only missions the RAF covers the the USMC doesn’t is Maritime Patrol and Strategic transport.

    Nota bene- the RAF also has the responsibility to cross deck to the RNs carriers when required.

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