Attrition: RAF Fades Away


July 2, 2011: The British Royal Air Force (RAF) recently graduated a class of 80 pilots. Because of the latest round of cutbacks, eight of those pilots will have no aircraft to fly. This came after cutting the pilot training over 40 percent earlier this year. The dismissed 170 pilot trainees, some only weeks away from completing their training, were, in effect, fired. Over a hundred million dollars has already been spent on the training of those dismissed, and many could probably use that training to quickly complete a civilian flying course, so they can get jobs as civilian pilots. There is still a strong demand for civilian pilots.

Currently, the RAF has 210 fighter pilots, 220 helicopter pilots and 210 transport pilots. The RAF has been ordered to cut its 38,000 personnel strength 13 percent over the next four years. Over a hundred aircraft and helicopters will also be withdrawn from service (either junked or put in storage.)

The RAF is trying to make cuts in areas that are Cold War related (like interceptor aircraft, and support for that force). For decades, the RAF prepared to deal with a much larger number of Russian aircraft. But that threat disappeared (along with most of the Russian Air Force) in the early 1990s.

Many RAF commanders believe the current round of cuts is too deep, but the government has some serious spending and debt problems that has moved to the front of the queue of things to do.


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