RT HON MICHAEL FALLON MP SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE
n 1916, the world witnessed a revolution. For the first time, air power was used in earnest to support our soldiers on the battlefields of the Somme. One hundred years later, thanks to our Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), the Royal Air Force (RAF) is to meet the demands of a more challenging age. First, in a world of complex, concurrent threats, the RAF is becoming ever more active. Today, our aircraft are striking hard at Daesh – in Syria, as well as in Iraq – and defending Baltic airspace from Russian aggression for a third year in a row. Our airmen and women are delivering far more than just ‘kinetic effect’. Their surveillance and reconnaissance skills are in constant demand. Their expertise as trainers is highly sought after. And their ability to lever the RAF’s global reputation to forge new friendships is invaluable at a time when we need international solutions to fix global problems. Last year, the RAF deployed to more than 60 countries. Secondly, the RAF is becoming ever more capable. With an increase to the RAF’s capital investment programme of more than £6 billion, we are now able to invest in an Expeditionary Air Group that packs a more powerful punch. Our F-35B Lightning will spearhead a revitalised carrier strike force and its state-of-theart capabilities will be showcased at RIAT and Farnborough this summer. Besides this, we are adding two more multi-role Typhoon squadrons to our combat fleet; increasing the
number of our Voyager air-to-air refuelling craft; purchasing new maritime patrol aircraft to protect our nuclear deterrent; upgrading our helicopter fleets; and more than doubling our Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems. Our future air fleet will be among the most mobile, capable and adaptable in the world. Thirdly, our RAF is becoming, as the title of this year’s Chief of the Air Staff’s Air Power Conference underlines, ever more innovative. Seventy-five years ago, Frank Whittle tested the first jet engine. Today, British engineering genius is helping us build wings for half the world. But to stay ahead of the curve, we’re investing in the brains behind air power, both in the Royal Air Force and across industry. Our new ‘aerospace hub’ and Supply Chain Champions – embedded in all front-line commands – will help tap the talents of creative businesses large and small. Meanwhile, alongside our international friends, we will develop the weapons necessary to deter and defeat all comers. So the SDSR was great news for the RAF. It opened up huge opportunities. Now the RAF must deliver. Not just in responding when the call comes, protecting our people and advancing our prosperity, but inspiring a new generation to enter the RAF’s ranks. For very nearly a century, a strong RAF has been a sign of a successful Britain. And by combining today’s renaissance in air power with an injection of tomorrow’s talent, we will ensure Britain continues flying high for many years to come.
INSPIRATION AND INNOVATION AIR POWER 2016
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