January 14, 2015 A guest post from AndyC - Think Defence
January 9th 2015 is an historic day for the Royal Air Force as it marks the first increase in the number of frontline combat squadrons since the mid-1980’s.
In a dangerous world where putting ‘boots on the ground’ is increasingly politically difficult the RAF is inevitably thrust to the front row of the UK’s force projection.
The increased assertiveness of Russia has led to the return of their aircraft to probing our air space as well as the need for a higher presence in Eastern Europe, especially in the Baltic States.
The success of IS in Iraq and Syria has led to the deployment of Tornados to Cyprus while the Afghanistan mission has finally drawn to a close.
All of these commitments have put strain on the RAF when it has fewer fast jet squadrons than at any time in its history. No amount of training or having the latest equipment can always make up for the stretch caused by multiple commitments occurring at the same time.
The question we face is: does the RAF have enough aircraft to do all the things the government and the international situation require of it?