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Shortage of RAF pilots for Libya as defence budget cuts bite

The RAF risks running short of pilots for operations over Libya as cuts to the defence budget threaten to undermine front-line operations, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Since the conflict began, a squadron of 18 RAF Typhoon pilots has enforced the Libya no-fly zone from an air base in southern Italy. However, a shortage of qualified fighter pilots means the RAF may not have enough to replace all of them when the squadron has to rotate in a few weeks.

The situation is so serious that the RAF has halted the teaching of trainee Typhoon pilots so instructors can be drafted on to the front line, according to air force sources. The handful of pilots used for air shows will also be withdrawn from displays this summer.

The shortage has arisen because cuts to the defence budget over the past decade have limited the number of pilots who have been trained to fly the new Typhoon.

There are also fewer newly qualified pilots coming through after the RAF was forced to cut a quarter of its trainee places due to cuts announced in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The Government’s decision to decommission HMS Ark Royal, Harrier jump jets and the Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft — all of which could have played a role in the Libya conflict — has exacerbated the problem. Serving RAF pilots contacted The Daily Telegraph to warn of the risks to the Libya operation. “We have a declining pool of pilots,” one said. “There’s less people to do twice as much work. If we are not training any more we are going to run out of personnel very soon.”

You Ought to be ashamed, oh my the mighty Lion can no longer Roar or Soar with Eagles.

Once the Mightiest in the sky, now?

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13 thoughts on “Hang Your Head in Shame Britain

  1. When one considers how often Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and Labour screwed over Britain economically(eg Sales of UK gold reserves), politically(Cash for Honours), and militarily(gutting the UK military) I find it amazing that there were substantial numbers of Britons who voted Labour to the point that the Lib Dems and Conservatives were forced to form a coalition government. BTW, I remember a few years ago there being a scandal over the sales of ‘Mothballed’ British Navy ships where the ships were sold but the funds never reallocated towards modern vessels if not unaccounted for altogether. I also find it amazing that Brown and Labour haven’t been brought up on charges of treason for the way they’ve destroyed the military.

    As far as I can tell the Bliar/Gordo Labour defense policy sacrificed the British military for social welfare shyte.

  2. This is the kind of sloppy reporting that the Telegraph has become prone to over the last few years. If fighter pilots could be trained in 6 months then the political timeline might add up, but it takes closer to 6 years.

    The rebuttal, held over until the final two lines, is the closest that the MoD can to using the word “bollocks” in a press statement – which sums this story up.

  3. Troll is right about the folly of our government cutting back on our military capability at a time when they throw our people into another combat zone at the drop of a political hat!
    I thought that kind of cynical stuff went out with Tony Bliar,
    but then I remind myself that David Cameron was an admirer of his…
    Had all his “frontline political stormtroopers” stand up and clap when Tony “greased out” of the House of Commons for the last time…
    It’s worth reading this link again

    Finally, it shows the naievety of our modern British politicians, that they think they can wave a miltary stick at perceived enemies,
    and at the same time reduce its size…….

  4. Hold on a minute. The RAF is absolutely NOT short on pilots.
    It may well be short on pilots who have time on this type. It may even be short of fast jet pilots (but I sincerely doubt that). But are there not some surplus ex Harrier pilots? Just how much training do they need to fly a less demanding plane.
    Less demanding as it doesn’t need to be able to hover and has the benefIt of much better advanced avionics than the Harrier.

    Consider there were no dual control Spitfires and Hurricanes in 1940. You went straight from a Avro 504 to a Hawker Hart maybe a Gloster Gladiator then straight to a Spit or a Hurri. If you were lucky you picked up some combat training then you were straight up against very good Luftwaffe pilots. Chocks away etc.

    I’d lay money all of the Red Arrow’s pilots could ‘easily aviate about a bit’ in a Euro Typhoon in under a couple of weeks quite easily. It’s not like they’d be dogfighting the Libyan Equivalent of Adolph Galland or Gunther Rall is it. There’s a whole squadron of replacement pilots for you. What we are short of is Typhoons.

  5. Troll –

    I’ll pass your admonishment onto the ruling class. In any case, watch and learn. You’ll be dusting off the P-51s by the time you pay off your debt.

    DiG –

    If you were lucky you picked up some combat training then you were straight up against very good Luftwaffe pilots. Chocks away etc.

    Absolutely, but then a gentleman never tries too hard.

    I can only hope the Telegraph is on some disinformation trip. Last week it was telling the world the Royal Navy’s running out of cruise missiles:


    It’s even telling us how many we started with, how many we fired and how many we have left.

    Do they think Russians and Chinese can’t read English or that this information won’t be gobbled up and factored into battle plans?

  6. >>You Ought to be ashamed, oh my the mighty Lion can no longer Roar or Soar with Eagles.<<

    Well, as you think that they would in this case only be supporting Al Qaeda, you should be rejoicing.

  7. >then straight to a Spit or a Hurri. If you were lucky you picked up some combat training then you were straight up against very good Luftwaffe pilots.<

    Interesting, DiG. The courage and sacrifice of those men is hard to imagine today. Here's what Luftwaffe ace Gunther Rall had to say about them:

    "In my experience, the Royal Air Force pilot was most aggressive and capable fighter pilot during the Second World War. This is nothing against the Americans, because they came in late and in such large numbers that we don't have an accurate comparison. We were totally outnumbered when the Americans engaged, whereas at the time of the Battle of Britain the fight was more even and you could compare. The British were extremely good."

  8. A number of displaced Czechs, Poles and Empire pilots (and more than a few Canucks/Yanks) in the RAF at that time. But no film fans…Ben Affleck didn’t win the Battle of Britain single handedly.

  9. Noel Cunningham –

    Rall may have come across some Poles and Czechs in the air if some RAF pilots were particularly aggressive.

    British pilots during the Battle of Britain tended to still display something of a sporting attitude, spunky flyers that they were.

    The Poles and Czechs, knowing what the Hun had done to their people, were less reticent, going in for shooting at Lufwaffe pilots dangling beneath parachutes and the like. It was quite an eye-opener for our chaps.

  10. I can not rejoice, my whole point is about your readiness not about the folly of backing Iran and Al-Qaeda against Gahdaffi

  11. Here are some seriously good pilots. They are in fact indestructible and just what the RAF needs to achieve total mastery of the skies.

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