Portal:Royal Air Force

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The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the air arm of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918 the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history ever since, playing a large part in World War II and in more recent conflicts. The RAF operates almost 1,100 aircraft and has a projected trained strength of over 40,000 regular personnel. The majority of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the United Kingdom with many others serving on operations (principally Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East, Balkans, and South Atlantic) or at long-established overseas bases (notably the Falkland Islands, Qatar, Germany, Cyprus, and Gibraltar).

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
The RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) and to provide "An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission."

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Pink's War was an air to ground bombardment and strafing carried out by the Royal Air Force, under the command of Wing Commander Pink, against the mountain strongholds of Mahsud tribesmen in South Waziristan in March and April 1925.

Following attacks by tribemen on British Army positions in southern Waziristan, it was decided that the Royal Air Force would conduct air operations against the tribesmen independently of the army. Bristol Fighters and de Havilland DH9s from Nos. 5, 27 and 60 squadrons were deployed to the airstrips at Miranshah and Tank.

Operations commenced on 9 March 1925 and the RAF squadrons strafed tribal mountain strongholds in a successful attempt to crush the rebellion. On 1 May 1925, the tribal leaders sought an honourable peace bringing the short campaign to a close. Pink's War was the first air action of the RAF carried out independently of the Army or Navy.

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A BAE Hawk at Kemble
Credit: Adrian Pingstone

BAE Hawk T.1 (XX232) at Kemble Airfield, Gloucestershire, England. This is an aircraft from No. 208 Squadron RAF

Selected biography

Air Chf Mshl Leigh-Mallory.jpg
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory KCB, DSO & Bar (11 July 1892–14 November 1944) was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force. Leigh-Mallory was killed during the Second World War and was one of the most senior British officers to be killed in the war.

He joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and was posted to No. 7 Squadron, where he flew bombing, reconnaissance and photographic missions during the Battle of the Somme. He joined the newly formed Royal Air Force after the war and commanded the Armistice Squadron and was promoted to Group Captain and appointed commander of No. 12 Group, Fighter Command at the outbreak of World War II.

Leigh-Mallory devised, with Acting Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, a massed fighter formation known as the Big Wing - which they used to hunt German bomber formations as a method of protecting the South East coast of Britain. He used the same tactic once given command of No. 11 Group in 1941 and was appointed as the air commander for the Dieppe Raid before his eventual promotion to Air Marshal and movement to head of Fighter Command.

Leigh-Mallory was appointed Commander-in-chief of the Allied Expeditionary Air Forces for the Normandy invasion, where he drew up the air plan for Operation Overlord, and was killed en route to Burma in August 1944. He had been appointed as the Air Commander-in-Chief of South East Asia Command (SEAC) and was travelling to take up this post when the aircraft he was travelling in crashed into the French Alps.

Selected aircraft

EH101 Merlin HMS Monmouth 2007.jpg
The AgustaWestland AW101 (EH101 until June 2007) is a medium-lift helicopter for military applications but also marketed for civil use. The helicopter was developed as a joint venture between Westland Aircraft in the UK and Agusta in Italy (now merged as AgustaWestland). The aircraft is manufactured at the AgustaWestland factories in Yeovil, England and Vergiate, Italy. The name Merlin is used for AW101s in British, Danish and Portuguese military service.

The Royal Air Force ordered 22 transport helicopters, the first of which entered service with No. 28 Squadron RAF, based at RAF Benson, in January 2001. The type is equipped with extended-range fuel tanks and is capable of air-to-air refuelling; however, due to the lack of a suitable UK tanker aircraft, this capability has not been cleared for use. The first operational deployment was to the Balkans in early 2003. They are currently deployed to southern Iraq as part of Operation Telic.

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