The military’s fleet of combat aircraft is “alarmingly” small, says MPs

According to MPs, the military’s fleet of combat aircraft is “alarmingly” small and would be unable to protect the UK in a full-scale conflict.

According to a study by the Commons Defence Committee, the cuts outlined in the 2021 Defence Command Paper will leave Britain “dangerously exposed” and result in a combat aviation capability gap that will last into the 2030s.

The panel chastised the fleet of C-130J Hercules transport planes for being retired seven years ahead of schedule.

Our current fleet lacks the bulk required to endure the attrition of a full-scale conflict with a peer adversary.

It said that the action significantly affects the RAF’s ability to support defensive operations and humanitarian missions, and might particularly hurt the special forces.

The reduction in the UK’s fleet of Wedgetail E-7 early warning aircraft from five to three, according to the assessment, “stands out as the most perverse” of all the cuts made by the Defence Command Paper.

Additionally, it referred to recent delays in flying training programmes as “completely unacceptable,” claiming that long wait times for pilot qualification hurt military morale and efficiency.

Due to a dearth of available aircraft, MPs highlighted that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will spend more than £55 million sending pilots abroad for fast-jet training.

Additionally, they stated that live flying is “no substitute” for simulator training and that it is “sub-optimal” for pilots and ground crew.

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Committee, said: “Air power capabilities can make or destroy a force.

Modern warfare requires the ability to rule the skies, and aircraft give our armed forces unmatched reach, height, and speed.

The RAF’s fleet has shrunk significantly since the conclusion of the Cold War, falling to just a third of its former size.

Our analysis, which was released today, concluded that budget cuts, including those in the most recent Defence Command Paper, have resulted in air capability shortfalls that will continue for the ensuing ten years.

Our investigation revealed that the RAF chose quality above numbers, leaving us with a fleet of combat aircraft that is pricey and high-spec but disturbingly little in number.

The size of our current fleet prevents it from withstanding the attrition of a full-scale conflict with a peer enemy.

It is urgent to address this because waiting will simply cause capability gaps to grow in the long run.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marked the start of a darker and riskier era for Europe,” he continued.

Despite this, none of the Ministry of Defence’s 2021 cuts to our aviation capability have been reversed.

There will be tumultuous times if the Ministry of Defence refuses to read the signs and doesn’t make the necessary investments.

“The RAF remains a world-leading defence force and has the necessary capabilities to fulfil NATO and UK commitments,” a MoD official said.

The RAF’s capabilities and personnel play a crucial role in responding to threats swiftly and wherever they appear in the world by providing 24/7 protection of the UK and safeguarding our overseas territories and interests.

The RAF is also leading transformation by investing in state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge technologies required to fly and battle successfully while also moving quickly to address identified difficulties, like the pipeline for flying training.

The new Defence Command Paper “seeks to tackle the threats we face, now and in the future,” according to the Committee’s report.

Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn