Royal Air Force
|Royal Air Force|
|Founded||1 April 1918|
|Part of||British Armed Forces|
|Air Staff Offices||Whitehall, London|
|Motto(s)||Latin: Per Ardua ad Astra |
"Through Adversity to the Stars"
|March||Royal Air Force March Past|
|Commander-in-Chief||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Chief of the Air Staff||Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston|
|Lord Trenchard |
|Pilot's Flying Badge|
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. It was formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, becoming the first independent air force in the world, by regrouping the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Following the Allied victory over the Central Powers in 1918, the RAF emerged as the largest air force in the world at the time. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.
The RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MOD), which are to "provide the capabilities needed to ensure the security and defence of the United Kingdom and overseas territories, including against terrorism; to support the Government's foreign policy objectives particularly in promoting international peace and security". The RAF describes its mission statement as "... [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". The mission statement is supported by the RAF's definition of air power, which guides its strategy. Air power is defined as "the ability to project power from the air and space to influence the behaviour of people or the course of events".
Today, the Royal Air Force maintains an operational fleet of various types of aircraft, described by the RAF as being "leading-edge" in terms of technology. This largely consists of fixed-wing aircraft, including those in the following roles: fighter and strike, airborne early warning and control, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), signals intelligence (SIGINT), maritime patrol, air-to-air refuelling (AAR) and strategic & tactical transport. The majority of the RAF's rotary-wing aircraft form part of the tri-service Joint Helicopter Command in support of ground forces. Most of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the UK, with many others serving on operations (principally over Iraq and Syria) or at long-established overseas bases (Ascension Island, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands). Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and the British Army's Army Air Corps also operate armed aircraft.
While the British were not the first to make use of heavier-than-air military aircraft, the RAF is the world's oldest independent air force: that is, the first air force to become independent of army or navy control. Following publication of the "Smuts report" prepared by Jan Smuts the RAF was founded on 1 April 1918, with headquarters located in the former Hotel Cecil, during the First World War, by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). At that time it was the largest air force in the world.
After the war, the service was drastically cut and its inter-war years were relatively quiet, with the RAF taking responsibility for the control of Iraq and executing a number of minor actions in other parts of the British Empire, including bases to protect Singapore and Malaya. The RAF's naval aviation branch, the Fleet Air Arm, was founded in 1924 but handed over to Admiralty control on 24 May 1939.
Second World War
The RAF underwent rapid expansion prior to and during the Second World War. Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan of December 1939, the air forces of British Commonwealth countries trained and formed "Article XV squadrons" for service with RAF formations. Many individual personnel from these countries, and exiles from occupied Europe, also served with RAF squadrons. By the end of the war the Royal Canadian Air Force had contributed more than 30 squadrons to serve in RAF formations, similarly, approximately a quarter of Bomber Command's personnel were Canadian. Additionally, the Royal Australian Air Force represented around nine percent of all RAF personnel who served in the European and Mediterranean theatres. During the Battle of Britain in 1940, the RAF defended the skies over Britain against the numerically superior German Luftwaffe. In what is perhaps the most prolonged and complicated air campaign in history, the Battle of Britain contributed significantly to the delay and subsequent indefinite postponement of Operation Sea Lion, Hitler's plans for an invasion of the UK. In the House of Commons on 20 August, prompted by the ongoing efforts of the RAF, Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a speech to the nation, where he said "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".
The largest RAF effort during the war was the strategic bombing campaign against Germany by Bomber Command. While RAF bombing of Germany began almost immediately upon the outbreak of war at first it was ineffectual; it was only later, particularly under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Harris, that these attacks became increasingly devastating, from early 1943 onward, as new technology and greater numbers of superior aircraft became available. The RAF adopted night-time area bombing on German cities such as Hamburg and Dresden. Night time area bombing constituted the great bulk of the RAF's bombing campaign, mainly due to Harris, but it also developed precision bombing techniques for specific operations, such as the "Dambusters" raid by No. 617 Squadron, or the Amiens prison raid known as Operation Jericho.
Cold War era
Following victory in the Second World War, the RAF underwent significant re-organisation, as technological advances in air warfare saw the arrival of jet fighters and bombers. During the early stages of the Cold War, one of the first major operations undertaken by the RAF was the Berlin Airlift, codenamed Operation Plainfire. Between 26 June 1948 and the lifting of the Russian blockade of the city on 12 May 1949, the RAF provided 17% of the total supplies delivered, using Avro Yorks, Douglas Dakotas flying to Gatow Airport and Short Sunderlands flying to Lake Havel.
Before Britain developed its own nuclear weapons, the RAF was provided with American nuclear weapons under Project E. However, following the development of its own arsenal, the British Government elected on 16 February 1960 to share the country's nuclear deterrent between the RAF and submarines of the Royal Navy, first deciding to concentrate solely on the air force's V bomber fleet. These were initially armed with nuclear gravity bombs, later being equipped with the Blue Steel missile. Following the development of the Royal Navy's Polaris submarines, the strategic nuclear deterrent passed to the navy's submarines on 30 June 1969. With the introduction of Polaris, the RAF's strategic nuclear role was reduced to a tactical one, using WE.177 gravity bombs. This tactical role was continued by the V bombers into the 1980s and until 1998 by the Panavia Tornado GR1.
For much of the Cold War the primary role of the RAF was the defence of Western Europe against potential attack by the Soviet Union, with many squadrons based in West Germany. The main RAF bases in RAF(G) were RAF Brüggen, RAF Gutersloh, RAF Laarbruch and RAF Wildenrath – the only air defence base in RAF(G). With the decline of the British Empire, global operations were scaled back, and RAF Far East Air Force was disbanded on 31 October 1971. Despite this, the RAF fought in many battles in the Cold War period. In June 1948 the RAF commenced Operation Firedog against Malayan terrorists during the Malayan Emergency. Operations continued for the next 12 years until 1960 with aircraft flying out of RAF Tengah and RAF Butterworth. The RAF played a minor role in the Korean War, with flying boats taking part. From 1953 to 1956 the RAF Avro Lincoln squadrons carried out anti-Mau Mau operations in Kenya using its base at RAF Eastleigh. The Suez Crisis in 1956 saw a large RAF role, with aircraft operating from RAF Akrotiri and RAF Nicosia on Cyprus and RAF Luqa and RAF Hal Far on Malta as part of Operation Musketeer. The RAF suffered its most recent loss to an enemy aircraft during the Suez Crisis, when an English Electric Canberra PR7 was shot down over Syria.
In 1957, the RAF participated heavily during the Jebel Akhdar War in Oman, operating both de Havilland Venom and Avro Shackleton aircraft. The RAF made 1,635 raids, dropping 1,094 tons and firing 900 rockets at the interior of Oman between July and December 1958, targeting insurgents, mountain top villages and water channels in a war that remained under low profile. The Konfrontasi against Indonesia in the early 1960s did see use of RAF aircraft, but due to a combination of deft diplomacy and selective ignoring of certain events by both sides, it never developed into a full-scale war.
One of the largest actions undertaken by the RAF during the Cold War was the air campaign during the 1982 Falklands War, in which the RAF operated alongside the Fleet Air Arm. During the war, RAF aircraft were deployed in the mid-Atlantic at RAF Ascension Island and a detachment from No. 1 Squadron was deployed with the Royal Navy, operating from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. RAF pilots also flew missions using the Royal Navy's Sea Harriers in the air-to-air combat role, in particular Flight Lieutenant Dave Morgan the highest scoring pilot of the war. Following a British victory, the RAF remained in the South Atlantic to provide air defence to the Falkland Islands, with the McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR2 based at RAF Mount Pleasant which was built in 1984.
With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the RAF's focus returned to expeditionary air power. Since 1990, the RAF has been involved in several large-scale operations, including the 1991 Gulf War, the 1999 Kosovo War, the 2001 War in Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion and war in Iraq and the 2011 intervention in Libya.
The RAF's 90th anniversary was commemorated on 1 April 2008 by a flypast of the RAF's Aerobatic Display Team the Red Arrows and four Eurofighter Typhoons along the River Thames, in a straight line from just south of London City Airport Tower Bridge, the London Eye, the RAF Memorial and (at 13.00) the Ministry of Defence building.
Four major defence reviews have been conducted since the end of the Cold War: the 1990 Options for Change, the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the 2003 Delivering Security in a Changing World and the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). All four defence reviews have resulted in steady reductions in manpower and numbers of aircraft, especially combat aircraft such as fast-jets. As part of the latest 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft was cancelled due to over spending and missing deadlines. Other reductions saw total manpower reduced by 5,000 personnel to a trained strength of 33,000 and the early retirement of the Joint Force Harrier aircraft, the BAE Harrier GR7/GR9.
In recent years fighter aircraft on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) have been increasingly required to scramble in response to Russian Air Force aircraft approaching British airspace. On 24 January 2014, in the Houses of Parliament, Conservative MP and Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Andrew Robathan, announced that the RAF's QRA force had been scrambled almost thirty times in the last three years: eleven times during 2010, ten times during 2011 and eight times during 2012.
RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Lossiemouth in Moray both provide QRA aircraft, and scramble their Typhoons within minutes to meet or intercept aircraft which give cause for concern. Lossiemouth generally covers the northern sector of UK airspace, while Coningsby covers the southern sector. Typhoon pilot Flight Lieutenant Noel Rees describes how QRA duty works. "At the start of the scaled QRA response, civilian air traffic controllers might see on their screens an aircraft behaving erratically, not responding to their radio calls, or note that it's transmitting a distress signal through its transponder. Rather than scramble Typhoons at the first hint of something abnormal, a controller has the option to put them on a higher level of alert, 'a call to cockpit'. In this scenario the pilot races to the hardened aircraft shelter and does everything short of starting his engines".
On 4 October 2015, a final stand-down saw the end of more than 70 years of RAF Search and Rescue provision in the UK. The RAF and Royal Navy's Westland Sea King fleets, after over 30 years of service, were retired. A civilian contractor, Bristow Helicopters, took over responsibility for UK Search and Rescue, under a Private Finance Initiative with newly purchased Sikorsky S-92 and AgustaWestland AW189 aircraft. The new contract means that all UK SAR coverage is now provided by Bristow aircraft.
In 2018, the RAF's vision of a future constellation of imagery satellites was initiated through the launch of the Carbonite-2 technology demonstrator. The 100 kg Carbonite-2 uses commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components to deliver high-quality imagery and 3D video footage from space.
The professional head and highest-ranking officer of the Royal Air Force is the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS). He reports to the Chief of the Defence Staff, who is the professional head of the British Armed Forces. The incumbent Chief of the Air Staff is Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, who was appointed in July 2019.
The management of the RAF is the responsibility of the Air Force Board, a sub-committee of the Defence Council which is part of the Ministry of Defence and body legally responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The Chief of the Air Staff chairs the Air Force Board Standing Committee (AFBSC) which decides on the policy and actions required for the RAF to meet the requirements of the Defence Council and Her Majesty's Government.
|Chief of the Air Staff||Air Chief Marshal||OF-9|
|Deputy Commander Capability||Air Marshal||OF-8|
|Deputy Commander of Operations||Air Marshal||OF-8|
|Air Officer Northern Ireland||Air Marshal||OF-8|
|Assistant Chief of the Air Staff||Air Marshal||OF-8|
|Air Officer Scotland||Air Vice-Marshal||OF-7|
|Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Plans)||Air Vice-Marshal||OF-7|
|Chief of Staff Personnel and Air Secretary||Air Vice-Marshal||OF-7|
|Commandant General Royal Auxiliary Air Force||Air Vice-Marshal||OF-7|
|Director of Legal Services||Air Vice-Marshal||OF-7|
|Air Member for Materiel and Chief of Materiel||Rear Admiral||OF-7|
|Air Officer Wales||Air Commodore||OF-6|
|Director of Resources||Civilian|
|Chief of the Air Staff's Warrant Officer||Warrant Officer||OR-9|
Administrative and operational command of the RAF is delegated by the Air Force Board to Headquarters Air Command, based at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. Air Command was formed on 1 April 2007 by combining RAF Strike Command and RAF Personnel and Training Command, resulting in a single command covering the whole RAF, led by the Chief of the Air Staff. Through its subordinate groups, Air Command oversees the whole spectrum of RAF aircraft and operations.
United Kingdom Space Command (UKSC), established 1 April 2021 under the command of Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey is a joint command, but sits "under the Royal Air Force." Godfrey is of equal rank to the commanders of 1, 2, 11, and 22 Groups. The new command has "responsibility for not just operations, but also generating, training and growing the force, and also owning the money and putting all the programmatic rigour into delivering new ..capabilities." UKSC headquarters is at RAF High Wycombe co-located with Air Command.
Groups are the subdivisions of operational commands and are responsible for certain types of capabilities or for operations in limited geographical areas. There are five groups subordinate to Air Command, of which four are functional and one is geographically focused:
No. 1 Group (Air Combat)
No. 1 Group is responsible for combat aircraft (comprising the Lightning Force and Typhoon Force) and the RAF's intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities. It oversees stations at RAF Coningsby and RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, RAF Lossiemouth in Moray and RAF Marham in Norfolk. The group's Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 aircraft protect UK and NATO airspace by providing a continuous Quick Reaction Alert capability.
No. 2 Group (Air Combat Support)
No. 2 Group controls the Air Mobility Force which provides strategic and tactical airlift, air-to-air refuelling and Command Support Air Transport. The group is also responsible for the RAF's Force Protection assets comprising the RAF Regiment and RAF Police. It oversees stations at RAF Benson and RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire, RAF Honington in Suffolk, RAF Odiham in Hampshire and RAF Northolt in West London.
No. 11 Group (Multi-domain operations)
No. 11 Group is responsible for integrating operations across the air, cyber and space domains whilst responding to new and evolving threats. It includes the RAF's Battlespace Management Force which controls the UK Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS). The group oversees stations at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland, RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire, RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria.
No. 22 Group (Training)
No. 22 Group is responsible for the supply of qualified and skilled personnel to the RAF and provides flying and non-flying training to all three British armed services. It is the end-user of the UK Military Flying Training System which is provided by civilian contractor Ascent Flight Training. The group oversees stations at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire, RAF Cosford and RAF Shawbury in Shropshire, RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, MOD St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall and RAF Valley on Angelsey.
No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group
No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group (No. 83 EAG) is the RAF's operational headquarters in the Middle East, based at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. It is responsible for UK air operations in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean (Operation Kipion), the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Operation Shader) and wider UK defence objectives in the Middle East. Operations are delivered through four Expeditionary Air Wings (No. 901 EAW, No. 902 EAW, No. 903 EAW and No. 904 EAW).
An RAF station is ordinarily subordinate to a group and is commanded by a group captain. Each station typically hosts several flying and non-flying squadrons or units which are supported by administrative and support wings.
Front-line flying operations are focussed at eight stations:
- RAF Coningsby, RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth (Air Combat)
- RAF Waddington (Intelligence, Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR))
- RAF Brize Norton and RAF Northolt (Air Transport)
- RAF Benson and RAF Odiham (Support Helicopter Force operating under Joint Helicopter Command)
Flying training takes places at RAF Barkston Heath, RAF College Cranwell, RAF Shawbury and RAF Valley, each forming part of the UK Military Flying Training System which is dedicated to training aircrew for all three UK armed services. Specialist ground crew training is focused at RAF Cosford, RAF St Mawgan and MOD St. Athan.
Operations are supported by numerous other flying and non-flying stations, with activity focussed at RAF Honington which coordinates Force Protection and RAF Leeming & RAF Wittering which have a support enabler role.
A Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) at RAF Boulmer is tasked with compiling a Recognised Air Picture of UK air space and providing tactical control of the Quick Reaction Alert Force. In order to achieve this Boulmer is supported by a network of eight Remote Radar Heads (RRHs) spread the length of the UK.
The UK operates permanent military airfields (known as Permanent Joint Operating Bases) in four British Overseas Territories. These bases contribute to the physical defence and maintenance of sovereignty of the British Overseas Territories and enable the UK to conduct expeditionary military operations. Although command and oversight of the bases is provided by Strategic Command, the airfield elements are known as RAF stations.
- RAF Akrotiri (Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Cyprus)
- RAF Ascension Island (Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cuhna)
- RAF Mount Pleasant (Falkland Islands)
- RAF Gibraltar (Gibraltar)
Three RAF squadrons are based overseas. No. 84 Squadron is located at RAF Akrotiri, operating the Griffin HAR.2 for search and rescue. No. 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron and No. 39 Squadron are located within the United States to support close cooperation with the U.S. Air Force in the development of the F-35B Lightning (Edwards Air Force Base, California) and the operation of the MQ-9A Reaper (Creech Air Force Base, Nevada) respectively.
A flying squadron is an aircraft unit which carries out the primary tasks of the RAF. RAF squadrons are somewhat analogous to the regiments of the British Army in that they have histories and traditions going back to their formation, regardless of where they are based or which aircraft they are operating. They can be awarded standards and battle honours for meritorious service. Most flying squadrons are commanded by a wing commander and, for a fast-jet squadron, have an establishment of around twelve aircraft.
A flight is a sub-division of a squadron. Flying squadrons are often divided into two flights, e.g., "A" and "B", each under the command of a squadron leader. Administrative squadrons on a station are also divided into flights and these flights are commanded by a junior officer, often a flight lieutenant. Because of their small size, there are several flying units formed as flights rather than squadrons. For example, No. 1435 Flight is based at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands, maintaining air defence cover with four Typhoon FGR4 aircraft.
Support wings and units
Support capabilities are provided by several specialist wings and other units.
Expeditionary Air Wings
Command, control, and support for overseas operations is typically provided through Expeditionary Air Wings (EAWs). Each wing is brought together as and when required and comprises the deployable elements of its home station as well as other support elements from throughout the RAF.
- No. 34 Expeditionary Air Wing (RAF Waddington) – ISTAR operations
- No. 38 Expeditionary Air Wing (RAF Brize Norton) – air transport operations
- No. 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (RAF Coningsby) – multi-role operations
- No. 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (RAF Leeming) – fighter operations
- No. 138 Expeditionary Air Wing (RAF Marham) – fighter operations
- No. 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (RAF Lossiemouth) – fighter operations
- No. 901 Expeditionary Air Wing (Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar) – Communication and information systems support
- No. 902 Expeditionary Air Wing (Middle East) – Helicopter support
- No. 903 Expeditionary Air Wing (RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus) – Supports Operation Shader
- No. 905 Expeditionary Air Wing (RAF Mount Pleasant, Falklands Islands) – Protection of British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic
- No. 906 Expeditionary Air Wing (Middle East) – Air transport support
The RAF Schools consist of the squadrons and support apparatus that train new aircrew to join front-line squadrons. The schools separate individual streams, but group together units with similar responsibility or that operate the same aircraft type. Some schools operate with only one squadron, and have an overall training throughput which is relatively small; some, like No. 3 Flying Training School, have responsibility for all Elementary Flying Training (EFT) in the RAF, and all RAF aircrew will pass through its squadrons when they start their flying careers. No. 2 Flying Training School and No. 6 Flying Training School do not have a front-line training responsibility – their job is to group the University Air Squadrons and the Volunteer Gliding Squadrons together. The commanding officer of No. 2 FTS holds the only full-time flying appointment for a Group Captain in the RAF, and is a reservist.
- Central Flying School (RAF Cranwell) – standardises flying training across the air force and ensures standards and safety are maintained.
- No. 1 Flying Training School (RAF Shawbury) – basic and advanced helicopter training.
- No. 2 Flying Training School (RAF Syerston) – gliding training provided by Volunteer Gliding Squadrons based at airfields throughout the UK.
- No. 3 Flying Training School (RAF Cranwell) – Elementary Flying Training (EFT) for RAF, Fleet Air Arm and Army Air Corps crews, also operates from RAF Wittering and RAF Barkston Heath.
- No. 4 Flying Training School (RAF Valley) – Basic Fast Jet Training (BFJT) and Advanced Fast Jet Training (AFJT).
- No. 6 Flying Training School (RAF Cranwell) – Initial training provided by University Air Squadrons and Air Experience Flights based at airfields throughout the UK.
The British military operate a number of joint training organisations, with Air Command leading the provision of technical training through the Defence College of Technical Training (DCTT). It provides training in aeronautical engineering, electro and mechanical engineering, and communication and information systems.
- No. 1 School of Technical Training is based at RAF Cosford and provides RAF personnel with mechanical, avionics, weapons and survival equipment training. Also based at Cosford is the Aerosystems Engineer and Management Training School. Both are part of the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering.
- No. 4 School of Technical Training is part of the Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering (DSEME) and is based at MOD St Athan. It provides training to non-aircraft ground engineering technicians.
- No. 1 Radio School and the Aerial Erectors School are based at Cosford and RAF Digby respectively and are part of the Defence School of Communications and Information Systems.
Specialist training and education
The Royal Air Force operates several units and centres for the provision of non-generic training and education. These include the Royal Air Force Leadership Centre and the RAF Centre for Air Power Studies, both based at RAF Cranwell, and the Air Warfare Centre, based at RAF Waddington and RAF Cranwell. Non-commissioned officer training and developmental courses occur at RAF Halton and officer courses occur at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at Shrivenham.
At its height in 1944 during the Second World War, more than 1,100,000 personnel were serving in the RAF. The longest-lived founding member of the RAF was Henry Allingham, who died on 18 July 2009 aged 113.
As of 1 January 2015, the RAF numbered some 34,200 Regular and 1,940 Royal Auxiliary Air Force personnel, giving a combined component strength of 36,140 personnel. In addition to the active elements of the RAF, (Regular and Royal Auxiliary Air Force), all ex-Regular personnel remain liable to be recalled for duty in a time of need, this is known as the Regular Reserve. In 2007, there were 33,980 RAF Regular Reserves, of which 7,950 served under a fixed-term reserve contract. Publications since April 2013 no-longer report the entire strength of the Regular Reserve, instead they only give a figure for Regular Reserves who serve under a fixed-term reserve contract. They had a strength of 7,120 personnel in 2014.
Figures provided by the International Institute for Strategic Studies from 2012 showed that RAF pilots achieve a relatively high number of flying hours per year when compared with other major NATO allies such as France and Germany. RAF pilots achieve 210 to 290 flying hours per year. French and German Air Force pilots achieved 180 and 150 flying hours across their fleets respectively.
Officers hold a commission from the Sovereign, which provides the legal authority for them to issue orders to subordinates. The commission of a regular officer is granted after successfully completing the 24-week-long Initial Officer Training course at the RAF College, Cranwell, Lincolnshire.
To emphasise the merger of both military and naval aviation when the RAF was formed, many of the titles of officers were deliberately chosen to be of a naval character, such as flight lieutenant, wing commander, group captain, and air commodore.
Other ranks attend the Recruit Training Squadron at RAF Halton for basic training. The titles and insignia of other ranks in the RAF were based on that of the Army, with some alterations in terminology. Over the years, this structure has seen significant changes: for example, there was once a separate system for those in technical trades, and the ranks of chief technician and junior technician continue to be held only by personnel in technical trades. RAF other ranks fall into four categories: Warrant Officers, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, Junior Non-Commissioned Officers and Airmen. All Warrant Officers in the RAF are equal in terms of rank, but the most senior Non-Commissioned appointment is known as the Chief of the Air Staff's Warrant Officer.
|Royal Air Force officer rank insignia|
|United Kingdom Epaulette rank insignia (view)|
|Rank Title:||Marshal of the Royal Air Force||Air chief marshal||Air marshal||Air vice-marshal||Air commodore||Group captain||Wing commander||Squadron leader||Flight lieutenant||Flying officer||Pilot officer/ acting pilot officer||Officer cadet|
|Abbreviation:||MRAF[note 2]||Air Chf Mshl||Air Mshl||AVM||Air Cdre||Gp Capt||Wg Cdr||Sqn Ldr||Flt Lt||Fg Off||Plt Off||Off Cdt|
|Royal Air Force other rank insignia|
|United Kingdom Rank Insignia (View)||No insignia|
|Rank Title:||Warrant Officer||Flight Sergeant||Chief Technician||Sergeant||Corporal||Lance Corporal
|Senior Aircraftman (Technician)||Senior Aircraftman||Leading Aircraftman||Aircraftman|
|Abbreviation:||WO||FS||Chf Tech||Sgt||Cpl||L/Cpl||SAC Tech||SAC||LAC||AC|
|Aircrew Rank Insignia||No equivalent|
|Rank Title:||RAF Master Aircrew||RAF Flight Sergeant Aircrew||RAF Sergeant Aircrew|
The Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 is the RAF's primary multi role air defence and ground attack fighter aircraft, following the retirement of the Panavia Tornado F3 in late March 2011. With the completion of 'Project Centurion' upgrades, the Typhoon FGR4 took over ground attack duties from the Panavia Tornado GR4, which was retired on 1 April 2019. The Typhoon is tasked to defend UK airspace, while also frequently deploying in support of NATO air defence missions in the Baltic (Operation Azotize), Black Sea and Iceland.
The RAF has seven front-line Typhoon units, plus an Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) and Operational Evaluation Unit (OEU); No. 3 (Fighter) Squadron, No. XI (Fighter) Squadron, No. 12 Squadron (joint RAF/Qatar Air Force), No. 29 Squadron (OCU) and No. 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron (OEU) based at RAF Coningsby, with No. 1 (F) Squadron, No. II (Army Cooperation) Squadron, No. 6 Squadron and No. IX (Bomber) Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth. Four Typhoons (Faith, Hope, Charity and Desperation) are also based at RAF Mount Pleasant on the Falkland Islands as part of No. 1435 Flight where they provide air defence. It was originally suggested that an eighth front-line squadron could be formed, however the 2021 Defence Command Paper announced the retirement of 24 Tranche 1 Typhoons by 2025 and a commitment to seven front-line squadrons.
The Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft. It is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions while also providing electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. It will be jointly operated by the RAF and the Royal Navy and with its ability to perform short take-offs and vertical-landings (STOVL), can operate from the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. Originally a total of 138 Lightnings were planned, however the 2021 Defence Command Paper amended this to a commitment to increase the fleet beyond the current order of 48. By December 2020, twenty-one F-35Bs had been delivered to the RAF.
The first RAF squadron to operate the F-35B was No. 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards AFB, California, accepting its first aircraft in 2014. No. 617 (The Dambusters) Squadron officially reformed on 18 April 2018 as the first operational RAF Lightning squadron. The first four aircraft arrived at RAF Marham from the United States in June 2018, with a further five arriving in August 2018. The Lightning was declared combat ready in January 2019. The second UK based F-35 squadron to be formed was No. 207 Squadron on 1 August 2019 as the OCU for both RAF and Royal Navy pilots.
Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR)
The Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1, based at RAF Waddington and operated by No. 8 Squadron, provides airborne early warning to detect incoming enemy aircraft and to co-ordinate the aerial battlefield. Six E-3 aircraft were originally procured in February 1987, with an additional Sentry ordered later that year. Deliveries to the RAF were completed in 1992, when ZH107 was handed over in May. The 2015 SDSR planned for six Sentry AEW1s to remain in service until 2035. However, the UK Government's announcement of the procurement of five Boeing E-7 Wedgetails in March 2019 led to the withdrawal of two Sentry AEW1s in preparation for the future transition to the new type, bringing the fleet down to four aircraft. In February 2020, it was announced that another E-3D had been retired in January, with the out of service date (OSD) for the Sentry being brought forward to December 2022 – before the E-7 Wedgetail will enter service. The 2021 Defence Command Paper brought the Sentry's OSD forward a year to 2021 and cut the total Wedgetail order to three aircraft.
Six Hawker Beechcraft Shadow R1s (with two more to be converted) are operated by No. 14 Squadron from RAF Waddington, these aircraft are King Air 350CERs that have been specially converted for the ISTAR role. Four Shadow R1s were originally ordered in 2007 due to an Urgent Operational Requirement, and began the conversion process to the ISTAR role in 2009. ZZ416 was the first Shadow R1 to be delivered in May 2009 to No. V (AC) Squadron. A further Shadow was procured and delivered in December 2011. The Shadow fleet was transferred over to the newly reformed No. 14 Squadron in October 2011. Following the 2015 SDSR, three more Shadows were ordered and the fleet was given an OSD of 2030.
Ten General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles have been purchased to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are operated by No. 39 Squadron based at Creech Air Force Base and No. XIII Squadron at RAF Waddington.
Three Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joints (also known in RAF service as Airseeker) replaced the Nimrod R1 fleet in the signals intelligence role under the Airseeker Programme and are flown by No. 51 Squadron. The Nimrod fleet was retired in 2011, the RAF co-manned aircraft of the US Air Force until the three RC-135s entered service between 2014 and 2017. The aircraft were Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker tankers converted to RC-135W standard in the most complex combined Foreign Military Sales case and co-operative support arrangement that the UK had undertaken with the United States Air Force since the Second World War. The Rivet Joint received its first operational deployment in August 2014, when it was deployed to the Middle East to fly missions over Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Shader.
Nine Boeing Poseidon MRA1 were ordered by the Government in November 2015 in its Strategic Defence and Security Review for surveillance, anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare, filling a capability gap in maritime patrol that had been left since the cancellation of the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 programme in the 2010 SDSR. On 13 July 2017, it was announced that No. 120 Squadron and No. 201 Squadron, both former Nimrod MR2 squadrons, would operate the Poseidon and be based at RAF Lossiemouth. No. 120 Squadron stood up on 1 April 2018, with No. 201 Squadron set to form during 2021. No. 54 Squadron acts as the OCU for the Poseidon fleet.
The first production Poseidon MRA1 ZP801 made its initial flight on 13 July 2019. ZP801 arrived at Kinloss Barracks, the former home of the Nimrod, on 4 February 2020, filling a decade long gap in maritime capability. The Poseidon was declared combat ready in April 2020. The Poseidon carried out its first operational mission on 3 August 2020, when the Russian warship Vasily Bykov was tracked. A Poseidon MRA1 arrived at RAF Lossiemouth for the first time in October 2020. By 2 February 2021, five Poseidons had been delivered.
No. 99 Squadron operate eight Boeing C-17A Globemaster III in the heavy strategic airlift role from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. Four C-17A were originally leased from Boeing in 2000, These four were subsequently purchased outright, followed by a fifth delivered on 7 April 2008 and a sixth delivered on 11 June 2008. The MOD said there was "a stated departmental requirement for eight" C-17s and a seventh was subsequently ordered, to be delivered in December 2010. In February 2012 the purchase of an eighth C-17 was confirmed; the aircraft arrived at RAF Brize Norton in May 2012.
Shorter range, tactical-airlift transport is provided by the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, known as the Hercules C4 (C-130J-30) and Hercules C5 (C-130J) in RAF service, based at RAF Brize Norton and flown by No. 47 Squadron. Twenty-five C-130Js were originally ordered in December 1994 (15 C4s and ten C5s), the first Hercules C4 to be delivered was ZH865 in August 1998, with the first Hercules C5 (ZH881) in May 1999. The 2010 SDSR called for the retirement of the Hercules fleet by 2022, with the 2015 SDSR amending this to maintaining the fourteen Hercules C4s until 2030. The draw-down of the Hercules C5 fleet began in 2016, with two left in service by December 2020. The fourteen C4 extended variants were scheduled to retire on 31 March 2035. However, due to the crash of Hercules C4 ZH873 in August 2017, one Hercules C5 was retained to keep the fleet at 14 aircraft. The 2021 Defence Command Paper brought forward the retirement of the Hercules fleet to 2023.
The Airbus Atlas C1 (A400M) replaced the RAF's fleet of Hercules C1/C3 (C-130K) which were withdrawn from use on 28 October 2013, having originally entered service in 1967. Based at RAF Brize Norton, the Atlas fleet is operated by No. LXX Squadron. The first Atlas C1 (ZM400) was delivered to the RAF in November 2014. The A400M is also expected to replace the C4/C5 variants. Originally, twenty-five A400Ms were ordered; the total purchase has now dropped to twenty-two.
Air transport tasks are also carried out by the Airbus Voyager KC2/3, flown by No. 10 Squadron and No. 101 Squadron. The first Voyager (ZZ330) arrived in the UK for testing at MOD Boscombe Down in April 2011, and entered service in April 2012. The Voyager received approval from the MOD on 16 May 2013 to begin air-to-air refuelling flights and made its first operational tanker flight on 20 May 2013 as part of a training sortie with Tornado GR4s. By 21 May 2013, the Voyager fleet had carried over 50,000 passengers and carried over 3,000 tons of cargo. A total of fourteen Voyagers form the fleet, with nine allocated to sole RAF use (three KC2s and six KC3s). As the Voyagers lack a refuelling boom, the RAF has requested a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the USAF allowing the UK access to tankers equipped with refuelling booms for its RC-135W Rivet Joint .
No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron replaced the Queen's Flight in 1995 and operate the BAe 146 CC2 in the general air transport and VIP transport roles. The squadron is based at RAF Northolt in west London. Aircraft operate with a priority for military needs over VIP transport. Two additional aircraft (designated as the BAe 146 C3) were purchased in March 2012 from TNT Airways and were refitted by Hawker Beechcraft on behalf of BAE Systems for tactical freight and personnel transport use.
RAF helicopters support the British Army by moving troops and equipment to and around the battlefield. Helicopters are also used in a variety of other roles, including in support of RAF ground units and heavy-lift support for the Royal Marines. The support helicopters are organised into the tri-service Joint Helicopter Command (JHC), along with helicopters from the British Army and Royal Navy. No. 22 Squadron, based at RAF Benson, re-formed in May 2020 as the OEU for JHC.
The large twin-rotor Boeing Chinook is the RAF's heavy-lift support helicopter. Originally ordered in 1978, with subsequent orders in 1995, 2011, and 2018 (yet to be finalised), the Chinook is operated by No. 7 Squadron, No. 18(B) Squadron and No. 27 Squadron at RAF Odiham and No. 28 Squadron (Support Helicopter OCU) at RAF Benson. Since being first delivered in 1980, the Chinook has been involved in numerous operations: the Falklands War (1982); Operation Granby (1991); Operation Engadine (1999); Operation Barras (2000); Operation Herrick (2002–2014); Operation Telic (2003–2011); Operation Ruman (2017); and Operation Newcombe (2018–present). The 60-strong fleet of Chinooks currently has an OSD in the 2040s.
The Westland Puma HC2 is the RAF's Medium-lift support helicopter. It is operated by No. 33 Squadron and No. 230 Squadron, as well as by No. 28 Squadron (Support Helicopter OCU), all of which are based at RAF Benson. The first two Puma HC1s (XW198 and XW199), of an eventual forty-eight, were delivered in January 1971, which were supplemented by a captured Argentine Army SA 330J in 2001 and six ex-South African Air Force SA 330Ls in 2002. Twenty-four Puma HC1s underwent upgrades to HC2 standard between 2012 and 2014. The Puma HC2 OSD is currently March 2025.
Three Bell Griffin HAR2 are operated by No. 84 Squadron based at RAF Akrotiri in the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas. They are the RAF's only dedicated search and rescue helicopter since the disbandment of the RAF Search and Rescue Force in February 2016. However, all UK military helicopter aircrew routinely train and practise the skills necessary for search and rescue, and the support helicopters based in the UK are available to the Government under Military Aid to the Civil Authorities.
The UK's military flying training has been privatised through a public-private partnership, known as the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS). Training is provided by Ascent Flight Training, a consortium of Lockheed Martin and Babcock International. New aircraft were procured to reduce the training gap between the older generation Grob Tutor T1, Short Tucano T1 and Beechcraft King Air T1 aircraft, and the RAF's modern front-line aircraft, including advanced systems and glass cockpits. UKMFTS also relies far more on synthetic training to prepare aircrew for the front line, where advanced synthetic training is commonplace.
The Grob Tutor T1 equips fifteen University Air Squadrons, which provide university students an opportunity to undertake an RAF training syllabus, which includes first solo, as well as air navigation, aerobatics and formation flying. These units are co-located with Air Experience Flights, which share the same aircraft and facilities and provide air experience flying to the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force. The Tutor is also flown by No. 16 Squadron and No. 115 Squadron based at RAF Wittering.
Volunteer Gliding Squadrons also provide air experience flying to cadets using the Grob Viking T1 conventional glider. Due to an airworthiness issue in April 2014, the Viking fleet and the Grob Vigilant T1 fleet were grounded for a two-year period, although Viking operations have subsequently resumed. The Vigilant was unexpectedly withdrawn from service in May 2018, a year earlier than planned. A contract tender was initiated in February 2018 to replace this capability from 2022 onwards.
The Grob Prefect T1 was introduced to RAF service in 2016 as its elementary trainer. The 23-strong fleet is based at RAF Cranwell and RAF Barkston Heath in Lincolnshire where they are operated by No. 57 Squadron. On completion of elementary training, aircrew are then streamed to either fast jet, multi-engine, or rotary training.
Basic fast jet training
Basic fast jet training is provided on the Beechcraft Texan T1, which replaced the Short Tucano T1 in November 2019. The Texan is a tandem-seat turboprop aircraft, featuring a digital glass cockpit. It is operated by No. 72 (F) Squadron based at RAF Valley in Anglesey which provides lead-in training for RAF and Royal Navy fighter pilots prior to advanced training on the BAE Hawk T2. The first two Texans were delivered in February 2018 and by December 2018 ten aircraft had arrived at RAF Valley. Four additional Texans were delivered on 3 November 2020.
Advanced fast jet training
The BAE Hawk T2 is flown by No. IV (AC) Squadron and No. XXV (F) Squadron based at RAF Valley. The latter provides initial Advanced Fast Jet Training (AFJT), while pilots who graduate on to the former squadron learn tactical and weapons training. After advanced training aircrew go on to an Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) where they are trained to fly either the Typhoon FGR4 (No. 29 Squadron at RAF Coningsby) or F-35B Lightning (No. 207 Squadron at RAF Marham) in preparation for service with a front-line squadron. The OCUs use operational aircraft alongside simulators and ground training, although in the case of the Typhoon a two-seater training variant exists which is designated the Typhoon T3.
On 15 October 2020, it was announced a joint RAF-Qatari Air Force Hawk squadron (similar to No. 12 Squadron) would be formed in the future. On 1 April 2021, it was further elaborated that this squadron would stand-up in September 2021 at RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire.
Multi-Engine aircrew, weapon systems officer (WSO) and weapon systems operator (WSOp) students are trained on the Embraer Phenom T1. It is operated by No. 45 Squadron based at RAF Cranwell. Multi-engine aircrew then go to their Operational Conversion Unit or front-line squadron.
The Hawker Siddeley Hawk T1, as well as being flown by the Red Arrows, is also flown by No. 100 Squadron to support other fast jet and ground unit training, as an aggressor aircraft from RAF Leeming. The squadron fulfils the role of enemy aircraft in air combat training or to provide additional air assets in joint exercises. Since 2019, No. 100 Squadron has been providing fast jet training alongside its aggressor role, which the Hawk T1 was originally used for between 1976 and 2016. The OSD for the Hawk T1 aggressor fleet was set as 2025 by the 2021 Defence Command Paper.
No. 1 Flying Training School (No. 1 FTS) (formerly the Defence Helicopter Flying School) is based at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire and provides basic helicopter pilot training for all UK armed forces. It flies twenty-nine Airbus Juno HT1. No. 1 FTS comprises two main elements, 2 Maritime Air Wing (2 MAW) and No. 9 Regiment. 2 MAW includes No. 660 Squadron of the Army Air Corps (AAC) and 705 Naval Air Squadron and provide basic helicopter flying training. No. 9 Regiment comprises No. 60 Squadron of the RAF and No. 670 Squadron of the AAC in the advanced helicopter flying training. No. 202 Squadron is also part of No. 1 FTS and operates the Airbus Jupiter HT1 at RAF Valley.
On 5 October 2015, it was announced that the Scavenger programme had been replaced by "Protector", a new requirement for at least 20 unmanned aerial vehicles. On 7 October 2015, it was revealed that Protector will be a certifiable derivative of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian with enhanced range and endurance. In 2016, it was indicated that at least sixteen aircraft would be purchased with a maximum of up to twenty-six. In July 2018, a General Atomics US civil-registered SkyGuardian was flown from North Dakota to RAF Fairford for the Royal International Air Tattoo where it was given RAF markings. It was formally announced by the Chief of Air Staff that No. 31 Squadron would become the first squadron to operate the Protector RG1 as it will be known in RAF service. In July 2020, the Ministry of Defence signed a contract for three Protectors with an option on an additional thirteen aircraft. The 2021 Defence Command Paper confirmed the order for 16 Protectors, with the 2015 SDSR having originally laid out plans for more than 20.
In July 2014, the House of Commons Defence Select Committee released a report on the RAF future force structure that envisaged a mixture of unmanned and manned platforms, including further F-35, Protector RG1, a service life extension for the Typhoon (which would otherwise end its service in 2030) or a possible new manned aircraft. In July 2018, at the Farnborough Airshow, the Defence Secretary announced a £2bn investment for BAE Systems, MBDA and Leonardo to develop a new British 6th Generation Fighter to replace Typhoon in 2035 under Project Tempest.
On 22 March 2019, the Defence Secretary announced the UK had signed a $1.98 billion deal to procure five Boeing E-7 Wedgetails to replace the ageing E-3D Sentry AEW1 fleet in the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) role. As of May 2020, the first E-7 is expected to enter RAF service in 2023 with the final aircraft arriving in late 2025 or early 2026. In December 2020, it was announced that the Wedgetail AEW1 will be based at RAF Lossiemouth. The 2021 Defence Command Paper cut the Wedgetail order down to three aircraft.
Symbols, flags, emblems and uniform
Following the tradition of the other British armed services, the RAF has adopted symbols to represent it, use as rallying devices for members and promote esprit de corps. British aircraft in the early stages of the First World War carried the Union Flag as an identifying feature; however, this was easily confused with Germany's Iron Cross motif. In October 1914, therefore, the French system of three concentric rings was adopted, with the colours reversed to a red disc surrounded by a white ring and an outer blue ring. The relative sizes of the rings have changed over the years and during the Second World War an outer yellow ring was added to the fuselage roundel. Aircraft serving in the Far East during the Second World War had the red disc removed to prevent confusion with Japanese aircraft. Since the 1970s, camouflaged aircraft carry low-visibility roundels, either red and blue on dark camouflage, or washed-out pink and light blue on light colours. Most non-camouflaged training and transport aircraft retain the traditional red-white-blue roundel.
The RAF's motto is "Per ardua ad astra" and is usually translated from Latin as "Through Adversity to the Stars", but the RAF's official translation is "Through Struggle to the Stars". The choice of motto is attributed to a junior officer named J S Yule, in response to a request for suggestions from a commander of the Royal Flying Corps, Colonel Sykes.
The badge of the Royal Air Force was first used in August 1918. In heraldic terms it is: "In front of a circle inscribed with the motto Per Ardua Ad Astra and ensigned by the Imperial Crown an eagle volant and affronte Head lowered and to the sinister". Although there have been debates among airmen over the years whether the bird was originally meant to be an albatross or an eagle, the consensus is that it was always an eagle.
Ceremonial functions and display
The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force based at RAF Scampton, with plans for the team to relocate to RAF Waddington. The team was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by RAF commands. The Red Arrows badge shows the aircraft in their trademark Diamond Nine formation, with the motto Éclat, a French word meaning "brilliance" or "excellence".
Initially, they were equipped with seven Folland Gnat trainers inherited from the RAF Yellowjacks display team. This aircraft was chosen because it was less expensive to operate than front-line fighters. In their first season, they flew at sixty-five shows across Europe. In 1966, the team was increased to nine members, enabling them to develop their Diamond Nine formation. In late 1979, they switched to the BAE Hawk trainer. The Red Arrows have performed over 4,700 displays in fifty-six countries worldwide.
Royal Air Force Music
Headquarters Royal Air Force Music Services, located at RAF Northolt, supports professional musicians who attend events around the globe in support of the RAF. The Central Band of the Royal Air Force was established in 1920. Other bands include the Band of the Royal Air Force College, the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment and the Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
|Gibraltar||1940s–present||RAF Gibraltar||Although there are no permanently stationed aircraft, RAF aircraft (e.g. transports) make regular visits.|
|Cyprus||1940–present||RAF Akrotiri||As part of British Forces Cyprus, the RAF have aircraft which can be deployed from Cyprus as part of the intervention against ISIL.|
|Norway||1960s–present||Bardufoss Air Station||RAF fighter and/or helicopter squadrons undergo winter training in Norway.|
|Ascension Island||1982–present||RAF Ascension Island||The island is used as an air bridge between the UK and the Falkland Islands.|
|Falkland Islands||1982–present||RAF Mount Pleasant||As part of British Forces South Atlantic Islands, the RAF has two Chinook helicopters based at Mount Pleasant, and four Typhoon aircraft in an air defence role.|
|Qatar||2005–present||RAF Al Udeid||An RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft is based at Al Udeid which is currently in use as a Middle Eastern base for the RAF as well as being the headquarters for the RAF contribution to Operation Shader.|
|Mali||2018–present||Operation Newcombe||In 2018, No. 1310 Flight RAF, consisting of three RAF Chinook transport helicopters and up to 60 support personnel, were deployed to Mali to assist French operations.|
- List of military aircraft operational during World War II
- List of Royal Air Force stations
- Royal Air Force Air Cadets
- Royal Air Force Museum
- RAF News
- Since April 2013, MoD publications no longer report the entire strength of the Regular Reserve, instead, only Regular Reserves serving under a fixed-term reserve contract are counted. These contracts are similar in nature to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
- Marshal of the Royal Air Force has become an honorary/posthumous rank, war time rank; ceremonial rank.
- "Quarterly service personnel statistics 1 April 2021" (PDF). GOV.UK. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
- "2018 United Kingdom Military Strength". Global Firepower. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "RAF Timeline 1918–1929". Royal Air Force. 2011. Archived from the original on 12 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Air Power and Colonial Control: The Royal Air Force, 1919–1939 Archived 1 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine By David E. Omissi, Published 1 January 1990, Retrieved 1 February 2014. Page 8.
- BBC: Fact File: The RAF Archived 21 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 1 February 2014
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Royal Air Force. 2011. Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "Role of the RAF". Royal Air Force. 2011. Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "Role of Air Power". Royal Air Force. 2011. Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Nick Harvey, Minister of State for the Armed Forces (31 January 2012). "Military Aircraft". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. Archived from the original on 17 September 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
- Royal Air Force: Our high-tech gear Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 1 February 2014
- "World War I". Royal Air Force. 2011. Archived from the original on 13 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Dickens, Peter (April 2018). "The Royal Air Force's 100th Birthday and its founder – Jan Smuts | The Observation Post". Samilhistory.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
- Spencer 2000, pp. 62,63. sfn error: no target: CITEREFSpencer2000 (help)
- "History of Fleet Air Arm Officers Association, FAAOA". Archived from the original on 18 April 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- Tami Davis Biddle, "British and American Approaches to Strategic Bombing: Their Origins and Implementation in the World War II Combined Bomber Offensive," Journal of Strategic Studies, March 1995, Vol. 18 Issue 1, pp 91–144; Tami Davis Biddle, Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914–1945 (2002)
- "RCAF.com : Archives : RCAF History : The War Years". 21 May 2006. Archived from the original on 21 May 2006. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- "Explore: 'The Angry Sky'". ww2australia.gov.au. Archived from the original on 11 July 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- "The Few". The Churchill Centre. March 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
- Overy, Richard (2013). The Bombing War. Penguin. p. 322.
- Paul Brickhill, The Dambusters
- "Attack on Amiens Prison, 18th February 1944". RAF. 2004. Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2007.
- "RAF Timeline 1945–1949". Royal Air Force. 2011. Archived from the original on 12 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "RAF Timeline 1960–1969". Royal Air Force. 2011. Archived from the original on 12 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Burnell, Brian. "Weapon detail and No.15 Squadron data for 1984." Archived 10 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine nuclear-weapons.info. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
- "Strategic Defence Review 1998: Full Report." Archived 26 October 2012 at the UK Government Web Archive Ministry of Defence, 1998, p. 24.
- Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – Overseas Commands – Iraq, India and the Far East Archived 6 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Operation Firedog : air support in the Malayan Emergency, 1948–1960". Imperial war Museum. Archived from the original on 31 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Seletar's Sunderlands". RAF Seletar. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Flight Lieutenant Jack Sherburn: Pilot awarded a DFC for his gallantry against the Mau Mau who went on to serve in Suez and fly with Yuri Gagarin". The Independent. 20 August 2014. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Suez Crisis". Britain's small wars. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Accident English Electric Canberra PR.7 WH799, 06 Nov 1956". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
- The Guardian: Britain’s secret wars
- Peterson, J. E. (2 January 2013). Oman's Insurgencies: The Sultanate's Struggle for Supremacy. Saqi. ISBN 9780863567025. Retrieved 29 April 2018 – via Google Books.
- "Confrontation Ends". Straits Times. 12 August 1966. Archived from the original on 31 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Ashworth 1989, p.26.
- Evans 1998, pp. 74–75.
- "Argentine Aircraft Lost – Falklands War 1982". Naval-history.net. 15 June 1982. Archived from the original on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
- "RAF Typhoons arrive for Falkland Islands mission – 9/22/2009". Flight Global. 22 September 2009. Archived from the original on 26 December 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
- Royal Air Force: Expeditionary Air Force Archived 14 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine, raf.mod.uk
- "Gulf War 25th anniversary special: a quick look at the RAF Tornado's reconnaissance missions over Iraq". Aviationist. 17 January 2016. Archived from the original on 31 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "RAF 'nearly ran out of bombs' in Kosovo". The Guardian. 25 April 2000. Archived from the original on 31 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Tornados Bound for Kandahar, Air Forces Monthly, August 2008 issue, p. 8.
- "903 Expeditionary Air Wing". Royal Air Force (RAF). Archived from the original on 18 March 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- "MOD rushes new transport plane into service for operations". The Telegraph. 22 April 2011. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "90th Anniversary Flypast in London". RAF News Archives. 1 April 2008. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- "BBC – Error 404 : Not Found". Archived from the original on 2 April 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- "Flypast marks RAF's anniversary". BBC News. Archived from the original on 6 April 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- "Lots of Losers in U.K. Defense Review". DefenseNews. Retrieved 22 October 2010.[permanent dead link]
- Wilkinson, Tom (24 November 2010). "Last Harrier jet leaves Ark Royal". Independent. UK. Archived from the original on 27 November 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- RAF Typhoons intercept Russian bombers Archived 19 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine (flightglobal.com), 27 October 2011
- Hansard Archived 14 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine (publications.parliament.uk), 24 January 2014
- "MoD image description". mod.uk. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- UK Ministry of Defence press release 20 September 2012
- "Farewell to RAF UK Search & Rescue". raf.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- Allison, George (1 March 2018). "Royal Air Force surveillance satellite launched into space". UK Defence Journal. Archived from the original on 3 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- Corfield, Gareth (1 March 2018). "Brit military boffins buy airtime on HD eye-in-the-sky video satellite". The Register. Archived from the original on 1 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Air Command senior, as of September 2018". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 12 March 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- "Chief of the Air Staff". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- Heyman 2013, p. 134–135.
- "Senior Commanders". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
- Thompson, Richard. "Senior Royal Air Force Appointments". raf.mod.uk.
- Heyman 2013, p. 136.
- "RAF High Wycombe". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- "Q&A: Air Vice-Marshal Harv Smyth talks UK Space Command". Airforce Technology. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
- "UK Space Command at RAF High Wycombe - Air Commodore Paul Godfrey to lead". Bucks Free Press. 2 February 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
- "No. 1 Group". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- "No. 2 Group". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- "No. 11 Group". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- "No 22 Group". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- "No 83 Expeditionary Air Group". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- Heyman 2013, p. 145.
- "RAF Stations". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- "Quick Reaction Alert". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- "Permanent Joint Operating Bases (PJOBs)". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
- "House of Commons - Hansard Written Answers for 17 March 2014 : Column 493W". parliament.uk. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
- "Griffin HAR.2". RAF. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Squadrons". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- "RAF Station organisation". Armed forces. Archived from the original on 24 August 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "History of 1435 Squadron". MOD. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015.
- Stone, Trevor (2017). "5". Sustaining Air Power: Royal Air Force Logistics since 1918. Fonthill Media. ISBN 978-1-78155-635-1.
- "Number 34 Expeditionary Air Wing". RAF. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "A Special Thank You For RAF Personnel Involved in Op Ruman". Forces Network. 27 October 2017. Archived from the original on 2 January 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- "RAF Mareham". RAF. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Robert Smith-Barry: The man who taught the world to fly". BBC. 23 February 2013. Archived from the original on 24 October 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Welcome to RAF Shawbury". RAF. Archived from the original on 17 October 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Royal Air Force". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
- "New Gliding School Launches for Air Cadets". Air Cadets. Archived from the original on 15 February 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Elementary Flying Training". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "RAF Cranwell". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
- "RAF Valley". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 28 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "6 Flying Training School". RAF.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 12 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
- "Defence College of Technical Training". RAF. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
- "RAF – Defence College of Technical Training". www.raf.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 4 February 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "RAF Cosford". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
- "MOD St Athan". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
- here, RAF Details. "RAF – DSCIS". www.raf.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
- "Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies". Air Power Studies. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Air Warfare Centre". armedforces.co.uk. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
- "Defence Review: inside the college that trains the top brass". Telegraph. 16 September 2010. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Fly-past for Britain's oldest man". BBC News. 3 June 2006. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- gov.uk MoD – regular personnel Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine, table 2-page 8. 1 January 2015.
- gov.uk MoD – quarterly personnel report Archived 21 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine, table 4-page 9. 1 January 2015.
- dasa.mod – reserves and cadet strengths Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, table 4-page 6. April 2012.
- gov.uk MoD – reserves and cadet strengths Archived 8 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, table 4-page 13. See note 2. April 2014.
- gov.uk MoD – reserves and cadet strengths Archived 8 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, table 4-page 13. April 2014.
- IISS 2012, p. 171
- IISS 2012, pp. 111–120
- "RAF IOT Breakdown" (PDF). 9 August 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 October 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- "Commissioned ranks of the Royal Air Force 1919–present". Air of Authority – A history of RAF Organisation. Archived from the original on 31 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Recruit training". RAF. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Chief of the Air Staff's Warrant Officer". Royal Air Force. 2011. Archived from the original on 12 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "RAF RANKS". Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- "Typhoon FGR4". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 21 April 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
- Jennings, Gareth (22 September 2014). "RAF Lossiemouth undertakes first QRA North scramble". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Archived from the original on 1 February 2015.
- "UK retires last Tornado F3 fighters". Craig Hoyle. Flightglobal. 22 March 2011. Archived from the original on 15 April 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- Hoyle, Craig (8 November 2018). "The UK Royal Air Force is advancing with preparations to mark the departure from service of its last Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft next March". Flight Global. Archived from the original on 24 January 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
- Lake, Jon (4 February 2019). "RAF Typhoons replace Tornados in Operation 'Shader' armed with Brimstone for first time". Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
- Jennings, Gareth (6 July 2018). "RAF receives first 'Centurion' Typhoons ahead of Tornado retirement". Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 1 March 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
- "Royal Air Force Jets to Patrol Icelandic Skies for NATO". Royal Air Force. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
- "Typhoon aircraft relocate to RAF Lossiemouth". www.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- "RAF Mount Pleasant". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
- Warnes, Alan (June 2020). "Reaching for the stars: UK combat air". Air Forces Monthly. Key Publishing Ltd. p. 34.
- "Defence in a competitive age" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 22 March 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
- Anderson, Guy; Hawkes, Jon; Jennings, Gareth; Tringham, Kate (23 March 2021). "The UK's Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper". Janes. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
- "Lightning F-35B". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
- "UK Tornado fleet to retire in 2019, says BAE". Flightglobal.com. 2 August 2012. Archived from the original on 19 August 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- "BBC News – RAF Marham base for Joint Strike Fighter". Bbc.co.uk. 25 March 2013. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- tweet_btn(), Gareth Corfield 19 May 2017 at 14:44. "Blighty's buying another 17 F-35s, confirms the American government". Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- Jennings, Gareth (1 December 2020). "UK progresses F-35B deliveries". Janes.com. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
- "17(R) Squadron". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 28 October 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
- "RAF's legendary Dambusters squadron reforms to fly F-35 jets | Royal Air Force". Raf.mod.uk. 18 April 2018. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- Taz Ali (7 June 2018). "F-35 Lightning fighter jets arrive at RAF Marham | Latest Norfolk and Suffolk News – Eastern Daily Press". Edp24.co.uk. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "Further five F-35 fighter jets land at new RAF Marham home". ITN News. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- "First F-35 jets ready to battle for Britain". Archived from the original on 11 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- "Identity of F-35 Lightning Training Squadron Announced". Royal Air Force. 5 July 2017. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
- "Second Lightning Fight Jet Squadron Arrives In UK". www.raf.mod.uk. 17 July 2019. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
- "RAF Sentry AEW aircraft deploys in support of counter-IS mission". Flight Global. Archived from the original on 2 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- "E-3D". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "AWACS For United Kingdom and France". Boeing. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "Displaying Serials in range ZH". ukserials.com. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "The Future of Air C2 and AEW: E-3 Sentry, Threat Technologies and Future Replacement Options". Royal United Services Institute. 5 June 2017. Archived from the original on 28 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "WEDGETAIL TO BE RAF'S NEW EARLY WARNING RADAR AIRCRAFT". Royal Air Force. 22 March 2019. Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
- "Ministry of Defence: The Equipment Plan 2019 to 2029" (PDF). National Audit Office. 27 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "Shadow R1". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "UK TO ACQUIRE TWO MORE BEECHCRAFT KING AIR 350-DERIVED SHADOW R.1". King Air Nation. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "UK converts King Air 350s into ISTAR platforms". defence-solutions.co.uk. 13 January 2009. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
- "Military Aircraft Markings Update number 49, June 2009" (PDF). Military Aircraft Markings. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "New defensive aids for RAF Shadow ISTAR fleet". Air Forces Monthly. 16 September 2019. Archived from the original on 28 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "14 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015" (PDF). www.gov.uk. HM Government. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- "Armed drones operated from RAF base in UK, says MoD". BBC News. 27 April 2013. Archived from the original on 28 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
- "RC-135W Rivet Joint". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 24 March 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "Nimrod R1 aircraft in final flight for RAF". BBC News. 28 June 2011. Archived from the original on 1 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
- Ministry of Defence (22 December 2010). "Rivet Joint joins Future Force 2020". Mod.uk. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "Iraq: 'Secret' Surveillance Flights Revealed". Sky News. 16 November 2014. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- "54 Squadron". raf.mod.uk. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "56 Squadron". raf.mod.uk. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- Allison, George (22 August 2018). "RAF announce that the P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft will be 'Poseidon MRA Mk1' in UK service". UK Defence Journal. Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
- "Defence review: Main developments at a glance". BBC News. 23 November 2015. Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "Defence Secretary announces new Maritime Patrol Aircraft squadrons". mod.uk. Ministry of Defence. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
- Chorley, Dan (13 October 2020). "RAF Poseidon MRA1 arrives at RAF Lossiemouth for the first time". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
- "POSEIDON, THE UK'S NEW MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT, TAKES TO THE SKIES". Royal Air Force. 13 July 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- "New Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft lands in UK for first time". raf.mod.uk. Royal Air Force. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
- "RAF Declare Poseidon an Initial Operating Capability". Royal Air Force. 3 April 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
- "First Operation for RAF Poseidon tracking Russian Warship". Royal Air Force. 7 August 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
- Allison, George (2 February 2021). "Fifth new British P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft arriving". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
- Gribben, Roland (31 July 2000). "MoD 'embarrassed' at cost of Boeing C-17 lease deal". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
- "Review turns up the heat on eurofighter". FlightGlobal. 22 July 2004. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
- "Boeing Delivers 6th C-17 to Royal Air Force". Boeing. 11 June 2008. Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
- Pike, John. "Royal Air Force to Acquire 7th Boeing C-17 Globemaster III". Globalsecurity.org. Archived from the original on 23 December 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
- "UK to buy eighth C-17 transport". Flight International. 8 February 2012. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- "New RAF C-17 aircraft touches down in the UK". Ministry of Defence. 24 May 2012. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- "47 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
- "C-130J HERCULES". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
- "Lockheed Martin delivers first RAF C-130J". Flight Global. 2 September 1998. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
- "Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules". Pymes75. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
- "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review" (PDF). HM Government. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "Service Inquiry into the accident involving a Hercules C-130J Mk4 (ZH873) Heavy Landing Incident on 25 August 2017". gov.uk. Ministry of Defence. 21 May 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
- Jennings, Gareth (24 July 2019). "UK extends Hercules out-of-service date to 2035". Jane's 360. London. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
- "Atlas C.1 (A400M)". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
- "First UK A400M Atlas delivered to the RAF". gov.uk. Ministry of Defence. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
- "MOD signs contracts and agreements for new RAF aircraft and weapons". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 2 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- "Hercules Aircraft:Written question – 4690". UK Parliament. 21 July 2017. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "XXIV Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
- "206 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
- "Voyager". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
- "Voyager, biggest plane in RAF history, arrives in UK". BBC News. 19 April 2011. Archived from the original on 20 April 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- "Airbus Military's A330 MRTT begins its service career with the UK Royal Air Force". Airbus. 9 April 2012. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- Hoyle, Craig (21 May 2013). "RAF Voyager launches tanker operations with Tornado". Flight International. Archived from the original on 9 June 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- Curtis, Howard J. (2019). Military Aircraft Markings 2019. Manchester: Crécy Publishing Ltd. p. 93. ISBN 978-1-91080-925-9. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
- "RAF, USAF Work on Rivet Joint Refueling Deal". Aviationweek.com. 5 July 2013. Archived from the original on 14 November 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "BAE Systems wins £15.5 million MOD contract for the Royal Air Force". BAE Systems. 21 June 2012. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "BAe 146 C.Mk 3 aircraft delivered to the UK Royal Air Force". BAE Systems. 19 April 2013. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- "Strategic Defence Review" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 1 July 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
- "22 Squadron Re-Forms At RAF Benson". Royal Air Force. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- Baldwin, Harriett (7 December 2017). "Chinook Helicopters: Written question – 116751". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 11 December 2017. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- "Boeing Unit to Make Helicopters for U. K. In $200 Million Job". The Wall Street Journal. 9 February 1978. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "COMPANY NEWS; BOEING AND WESTLAND SPLIT BRITISH HELICOPTER ORDER". The New York Times. 10 March 1995. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "RAF flying high in new Chinook helicopters". gov.uk. Ministry of Defence. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "United Kingdom – H-47 Chinook (Extended Range) Helicopters and Accessories". United States Defense Security Cooperation Agency. 19 October 2018. Archived from the original on 9 April 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "Chinook". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "Chinook arrival with Royal Air Force remembered". Royal Air Force. 22 November 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
- "RAF Squadrons Receive Battle Honours from Her Majesty The Queen". Royal Air Force. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "Hurricane Irma Relief". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- Tanguy, Jean-Marc (June 2020). "Airlifters in Africa". Air Forces Monthly. Key Publishing Ltd. pp. 54–57.
- "Final new-build Chinook HC6s delivered to UK RAF". Flight Global. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- Baldwin, Harriett (7 December 2017). "Chinook Helicopters: Written question – 116751". UK Parliament. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "230 Squadron". NATO Tigers. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "UK MoD receives first upgraded Puma HC Mk2 helicopter". Airforce Technology. 14 September 2012. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
- "Wildcat Workout". Flight International. 99 (3230): 532. 4 February 1971. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013.
- "RAF using Argentine aircraft from Falklands War". Merco Press. 11 June 2001. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- Dubois, Paul. "Puma SA 330 in SAAF Service". TRANSPORT IN SOUTH and SOUTHERN AFRICA. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "Upgraded Puma fleet reaches 10,000 flight hours". Airbus. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "Support deal worth £100m agreed for Puma helicopters". gov.uk. Ministry of Defence. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "RAF Search and Rescue Force Disbandment Parade". Royal Air Force. 18 February 2016. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "202 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "Agusta A109E". RAF. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Ascent Flight Training". ascentflighttraining.com. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- "UKMFTS Fixed Wing Aircraft Service Provision Contract Awarded". Aerossurance. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
- "Tutor T1". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- Brown, David (11 May 2018). "RAF grounds its training gliders over safety fears". The Times (72532). p. 4. ISSN 0140-0460.
- "Fixed-wing Light Aircraft Training System – Contracts Finder". Contractsfinder.service.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
- "Prefect T1". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- "First T-6C Texan IIs arrive at Valley". Air Forces Monthly (361): 8. April 2018.
- Cone, Allen (22 February 2019). "Britain tests Texan T1 training aircraft for first time". United Press International. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
- "Four new Texan aircraft arrive at RAF Valley". Affinity Flying Training Services. 3 November 2020. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
- "XXV (F) SQUADRON". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
- "Operational conversion". RAF. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Second joint RAF & Qatari air force squadron intended for UK". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
- "Royal Air Force and Qatar Emiri Air Force Expand Defence Partnership". Royal Air Force. 1 April 2021. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
- "Phenom T1". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- "100 Squadron". RAF. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
- Ripley, Tim (22 January 2019). "RAF brings back fast jet training on Hawk T1". Janes.com. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
- Dufton, Lieutenant Colonel Jon (2018). "Foreword". Aries. 3: 4–5. Archived from the original on 23 July 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
- "202 Sqn Jupiter HT1 positioning for RAF100 flypast" (PDF). 202 Squadron Association. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
- "'Protector' UAV fleet to replace RAF Reapers". Flightglobal. 5 October 2015. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- "MoD reveals Reaper derivative will be chosen for Protector". Flightglobal. 7 October 2015. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- Stevenson, Beth (18 November 2016). "US approves sale of up to 26 Protector UAVs to UK | News". Flight Global. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
- "Key Battle of Britain Fighter Command group to be reformed". St Helens Star. Newsquest Media Group. 11 July 2018. Archived from the original on 11 July 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- "Protector makes its way to the UK". Royal Air Force. 11 July 2018. Archived from the original on 12 July 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- "RAF announces new Typhoon, Protector squadrons". IHS Janes. 12 July 2018. Archived from the original on 12 July 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
- "MOD signs £65 million contract for Protector aircraft". UK Ministry of Defence. London. 15 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "UK orders first three Protector drones from General Atomics". Defence News. 15 July 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
- "UK sets out post-2030 combat aviation force structure". Janes. 29 July 2014. Archived from the original on 20 August 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
- Callum Jones. "RAF unveils £2bn plan for new Tempest fighter jet (and it has lasers) | News". The Times. Archived from the original on 17 July 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
- Quin, Jeremy (11 May 2020). "AWACS:Written question - 41916". UK Parliament. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- "RAF surveillance fleet to be based in Moray". Royal Air Force. 18 December 2020. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
- Robertson 1967, p 89
- "The RAF Roundel". RAF. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Air Ministry Orders A.666/49, 15 September 1949
- "The Royal Air Force Motto". RAF. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- W/C F.H. Hitchins. "It's an albatross, it's an eagle ... it's an eagle". Forces.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
- "Team History". Royal Air Force Arrows. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Red Arrows". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
- "Central Band of the Royal Air Force". Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "RAF – The Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force". www.raf.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 29 December 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "The History of RAF Gibraltar". RAF. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "British pilots took part in anti-Isis bombing campaign in Syria". The Guardian. 17 July 2015. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "Norwegian Arctic training for UK forces helicopter crews". Ministry of Defence. 19 March 2015. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Eklund, Dylan (2015). "A rock and a hard place". The Official Royal Air Force Review 2015: 118. ISSN 1758-9681.
- "Britain to boost Falklands Islands defences". BBC. 24 March 2015. Archived from the original on 16 November 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Farmer, Ben (24 March 2015). "Britain's military defences in the Falkland Islands". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- "The brand new RAF Rivet Joint aircraft "fried" Daesh communications with massive jamming attack in Libya". The Aviationist. 19 May 2016. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "RAF Chinooks Begin Mali Deployment With French Military". Forces News. 20 September 2018.
- Biddle, Tami Davis. Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914–1945 (2002)
- Bowyer, Chaz. History of the RAF (London: Hamlyn, 1977).
- Dean, Maurice. The Royal Air Force and Two World Wars (Cassell, 1979).
- Connolly, Corvin J. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Cotesworth Slessor and the Anglo-American Air Power Alliance, 1940–1945 (Texas A&M Press, 2001).
- Cox, Jafna L. "A splendid training ground: the importance to the Royal Air Force of its role in Iraq, 1919–32." Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 13.2 (1985): 157–184.
- Davis, Richard B. Bombing the European Axis Powers. A Historical Digest of the Combined Bomber Offensive 1939–1945 (Air University Press, 2006) online
- Gooderson, Ian. Air Power at the Battlefront: Allied Close Air Support in Europe 1943–45 (Routledge, 2013).
- Heaton, Colin D., and Anne-Marie Lewis. Night Fighters: Luftwaffe and RAF Air Combat Over Europe, 1939–1945 (Naval Institute Press, 2008).
- Heyman, Charles (2013). The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom (2014–2015). Barnsley: Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-178346351-0.
- Hoffman, Bruce. British Air Power in Peripheral Conflict, 1919–1976 (RAND, 1989) online, with bibliography
- International Institute for Strategic Studies (2010). Hackett, James (ed.). The Military Balance 2010. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1857435573.
- International Institute for Strategic Studies (2012). Hackett, James (ed.). The Military Balance 2012. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1857436426.
- Lee, David. Eastward: a history of the Royal Air Force in the Far East, 1945-1972 (Seven Hills Books, 1984).
- Lee, David. Flight from the Middle East: A History of the Royal Air Force in the Arabian Peninsula and Adjacent Territories, 1945–1972 (HM Stationery Office, 1980).
- Maiolo, Joseph. Cry Havoc: How the arms race drove the world to war, 1931–1941 (2010)
- Philpott, Ian, ed. Royal Air Force History: Royal Air Force – an Encyclopaedia of the Inter-War Years (2 vol 2008)
- Rawlings, John D.R. The History of the Royal Air Force (1984) well illustrated.
- Richards, Denis, and David Pilgrim. Royal Air Force, 1939–1945: The fight at odds (1954), the official history.
- Robertson, Bruce (1967). Aircraft Markings of the World 1912–1967. London: Harleyford. ISBN 978-0900435096.
- Saunders, Hilary. Per Ardua: The Rise of British Air Power, 1911-1939 (Oxford UP, 1945).
- Sinnott, Colin S. The RAF and Aircraft Design: Air Staff Operational Requirements 1923-1939 (Routledge, 2014).
- Smith, Malcolm. British Air Strategy Between the Wars (Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1984).
- Smith, Gordon Scott. RAF War Plans and British Foreign Policy 1935 - 1940 (MIT Dept. of Political Science, 1966). online
- Spencer, Alex M (2020). British Imperial Air Power: The Royal Air Forces and the Defense of Australia and New Zealand Between the World Wars. Indiana: Purdue University Press. ISBN 978-1-55753-940-3.
- Werrell, Kenneth P. "The strategic bombing of Germany in World War II: Costs and accomplishments." Journal of American History 73.3 (1986): 702–713. online
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Royal Air Force.|