The British or the Royal Air Force is one of the integral wing of the British Armed Forces and has being doing the country proud with its majestic support in maintaining world peace and the fight against terrorism in collaboration with the United states armed forces. The Royal Air force was founded on April 1st 1918 and is considered to be an important air force that played a very significant role in the Second World War. It is because of the herculean efforts of the Royal Air force that the British armed forces have been a leading light to other armed forces of the world. The significant role that the British Air force is currently playing in the recent conflicts has been received very well by all the leading nations of the world. The British Air force is the second largest air force super power among the NATO nations after the United States and is considered to be having the largest air orce3 among the European nations.
The Royal Air Force is considered to be one of the highly modern aerial warfare units and is also the oldest independent air force that the world has ever seen. Most of the British Air force personnel and the aircrafts are stationed at United Kingdom while some of them are currently serving at various locations like Afghanistan and the Middle East or are based at various long established bases in overseas countries like Gibraltar, Germany, Cyprus, Canada, Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands. The main objective of the British Air force is to ensure the safety and sovereignty o the people of United Kingdom and to support the policies o the Central Government in promoting international peace and security as well as remove the evil threats of terrorists from the face of the Earth.
History of Royal Air Force
The Royal Air force was formed in 1918 towards the fag end of the World War I by bringing together the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal lying Corps into a single fold called RAF. The outcome of the WWI resulted in reduction in size of the aircrafts that the RAF owned and the primary role that the RAF played during the inter war period was to police the British Empire. The Royal Air Force can boast of being the only independent air force in the entire world that became independent from the clutches of the army and navy. The British Government Air Ministry was given the total charge of the British Air Force during its early days. It was because of the significant achievements made by the air strikes of the army and navy during the World War I that led to the amalgamation of Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps and forming of the British Air Force.
In order to show the loyalty towards both military as well as naval aviation for the merger, The Royal Air force did give a naval flavor to the title of various officers like group captain, wing commander, air commodore and flight lieutenant. The Royal Air force was no doubt the leading air force of the entire world as it had over 30,000 personnel working for the air force as well as over 20,000 aircrafts. The British Air force was given the task of policing the British Empire from the British skies immediately after the World War I. There was a great debate going on in United Kingdom about the expenses that the Government needs to bear for the RAF in comparison with the land forces. The policing policy adopted by the RAF was an instant hit with the defeat of the rebel Somaliland people with the help of ground units. The tribal unrest in Iraq gave the RAF the task of policing the ground British forces in 1921. It was in 1928 that the RAF was first used to evacuate a few civilians who were British delegation and diplomatic European staff who were based at Kabul during the civil war. The RAF had to go through a torrid time during the inter war years as it had to fight for its survival as a separate unit and did many things like hosting the annual Hendon Air Show and sponsoring a team during the Schneider trophy competition in order to be visible to the public eye. The reorganization of the Royal Air Force command saw the creation of Bomber command, Coastal command as well as Fighter command.
The RAF had to undergo a whirlwind of change to its entire set up following the outbreak of the war against Germany by the British armed forces in 1939. Many of the aircrew from the British air force was sent to British Commonwealth countries for training by virtue of the British Commonwealth Air training plan. There were also lots of Commonwealth air force personnel from various other nations like Canada, Australia etc who were serving the Royal Air Force during the war against Germany and the numbers kept on increasing as lots and lots of common man were included from other countries as well as thousands of people from German occupied Europe were also included . All the people from other nations joined the British war against Germany as they all wanted to thwart the evil German Nazi force from the face of the earth.
The most significant period in the history of the British air force came during the Battle for Britain during the Second World War. The Royal Air force was very strong in the aerial combat with the very powerful Luftwaffe and the resistance that the RAF showed against the attacking German air force was helpful in prolonging the Attack and later cancellation of the German forces plan of invading the United Kingdom during the Operation Sea Lion. This was a milestone achievement in the history of Royal Air force and was even President Winston Churchill lauded the efforts of the Royal Ari Force when he addressed the House of Commons on August 20.
The strategic bombing campaign of the RAF against Germany was also one of the highlights of the campaign of RAF during World War II. In 1942 The RAF newly formed Bomber Command took to the skies and launched large scale night raids that even involved more than 1000 aircrafts. The heavy our engine bombers like Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Haliax were pressed into action during the famous raids like Operation Gomorrah, the destruction of Hamburg, Battle of Berlin, Operation Millennium and Operation Chastise. The allied war group had gained a lot due to the various operations that the Royal Air force carried out by the lighter and two engine bomber de Havilland Mosquito that was used mainly during the raid on the Copenhagen Gestapo headquarters as well as similar attacks on the enemy forces. There are also significant evidences to prove that there was lots of firebombing air attacks on many German cities during the final days of the war by Royal Air force.
The attack of the Egyptian Royal Air force on Royal Air force Ramat David was the main reason or the RAF to retaliate against the Egyptian air force in Israel. All their fighter planes were easily attacked and hunted down by the powerful RAF. The Operation Plain fire that was carried out in 1948 which is also known as the Berlin airlift was the major act performed by the Royal Air Force after their stupendous victory in the Second World War. Even though the Royal Air Force was not involved in the Korean War, The Royal Air Force pilots did carry out some actions on exchange with the Air Force of United States and this resulted in them achieving about seven killings.
The Nuclear determent plans of United Kingdom were carried out by the Royal Air Force’s V bomber squadrons until the Royal Navy Polaris submarines were developed. Before the development of its nuclear weapons, the RAF was provided with the American nuclear weapons under Project E. Once the Polaris submarines were developed the control of the nuclear weapons were transferred from the RAF to the Polaris and the RAF’s nuclear role was reduced to just a tactical move. The V bomber squadrons continued the tactical move into the year 1980 and further on till 1998 by Tornado GR1s. The RAF legacy does not stop here as it has fought several wars after the Second World war namely the Operation Firedog against the Malayan terrorists in 1948, anti Mau Mau operations in Kenya through RAF Avro Lincoln squadrons from 1953 to 56, Operation Musketeer using RAF Hal Far and RAF Luqa on Malta and use of RAF Nicosia and RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus.
The Falklands War that sprung up in 1982 saw RAF aircraft being deployed at RAF Ascension Island in the mid Atlantic despite the war being fought by the Navy and the Army. The RAF pilots were roped in to fly the Royal Navy Sea Harriers and a total of five Argentine aircraft were shot down by the RAF pilots during the air to air combat. The RAF was based in South Atlantic for a long time in order to provide air defense to the Falkland Islands even after the war. The defense capacities of the British forces were later on strengthened by building the RAF Mount Pleasant in order to provide transport facility as well as a fighter facility to the islands.
The contribution of the Royal Air force during the Gulf war is worth mentioning as over 100 RAF aircrafts were deployed in various roles in order to bring a successful end to the campaign of war against the Iraqi forces. The Gulf war paved way for RAF to create yet another significant contribution to the RAF legendary history as it was the very first time that the RAF used the precision guided munitions in considerable amounts. Later on, the RAF was assigned with the task of enforcing and guarding the no fly zone areas in Iraq.
Present Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is currently basking on its illustrious past and at present there are a total of about 998 aircrafts that can be called up for action for any emergency situations that arises. It is also very commendable to say that the Royal Air force has a total of about 42,000 regular personnel who are serving the RAF at various capacities in various regions of the world. Also, a total of over 33,400 Royal Air Force reserve personnel are on stand by to deal with any type of emergency situations that may break out all of a sudden.
The main head of the Royal Air Force is the Chief of Air Staff who is currently Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. The Chief of Air Staff is the main person who is responsible for all the activities that are carried out by the RAF at any time. The Air Force Command is a committee of Air force Defense Council and the air force command has all the powers to control the RAF’s command. The Royal auxiliary Air Force, RAF Volunteer reserve, RAF Police and RAF Regiment all come under the direct supervision of the Royal Air Force command.
There are plenty of aircrafts that are currently available at disposal of the British Air force. One of the most important air craft that is predominantly used by the RAF for offensive support is Tornado GR4. This aircraft is considered to be a high performing supersonic flight that can carry wide array of weapons from the laser guided bombs to the storm shadow cruise missiles to the anti radar alarm missile. The use of Euro fighter Typhoon FGR4 has also proved to be a very successful affair for the RAF. At present the Euro fighter Typhoon FGR4/ F2 are the only air defense fighter aircraft at the possession of RAF that are based at RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars. They are mainly used to defend the United Kingdom’s airspace round the clock as there are possibilities of imminent attack threats from South and South west of UK airspace.
The early detection of any aircraft approaching the country and coordination of aerial battlefield are the job of RAF Waddingtion and Senetry AEW1. Tornado GR4A, Sentinel R1, Britten Norman Islanders and MQ-9 Reaper UAV are some of the reconnaissance aircrafts that are used by the RAF to provide surveillance of a particular area either in ground or to provide aerial survey of any particular area. The RAF support helicopters Merlin HC3, Chinook HC2 and Puma HC1 are commonly used in shifting troops and equipments at the battlefield.
The aircraft that is utilized for transporting VIP personnel is the Bae 146 CC2 and Augusta A109 that is based at RAF Northolt in west of London. The Sea King HAR3A or HAR3 are the helicopters that are used in aiding the search and rescue operations carried out by the RAF. The Tutor T1, Vigilant T1 and BAE Hawk T1 are some of the aircrafts that are used for providing advanced flying training to the air force personnel.
Royal Air Force Future
The Hercules C1/C3 (C-130K) transport aircraft will be replaced by the newly ordered Airbus A400M pretty soon and this new aircraft will be a crowning glory in the feather of the RAF cap. This particular aircraft will be known as the Atlas in the RAF service. The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft program is going on at a steady pace and the future of the ageing air refueling aircraft of Tristars and VC 10s remains very bleak as they will soon be replaced by the F-35 C Lightning II by 2020 as part of the joint Combat Operation Program.
The Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint is all set to replace the retired Nimrod R1 aircraft by 2014 as it will be used in the signals intelligence role by the RAF in the near future. The RAF will be sharing the signals aircraft of United States Air force rightly coined as the Air seeker until the arrival of Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint. There is all possibility that the RAF will be looking to expand its armory with Strategic Unmanned Combat Aerial vehicle (UCAV) that will be used as a reconnaissance air craft as well as for ground attacks. The BAE mantis is another type of UCAV aircraft that is still in the developing stages and has the facilities to fly it over a full mission. This model will enter into the RAF household as early as 2015 as a part of the RAF Scavenger program.
There is no doubt that with the addition of so many aircrafts to the already exquisite line up of RAF aircrafts, this British Air Force will be an important force to reckon with in the near future. The Royal Air force will be committed in maintaining world peace and understanding as well as will continue its vigil and dedication to wipe out terrorism and terrorist activities from the face of the Earth in future as well.