Portal:Royal Air Force

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

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

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The Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service (RAFMRS) provides land rescue over the mountain areas of the United Kingdom. Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue teams (MRTs) were first organised during World War II to rescue aircrew from the large number of aircraft crashes then occurring on high ground. The practice at the time was to organise ad-hoc rescue parties from station medical sections and other ground personnel. Experience demonstrated that this could be dangerous. While the mountains of the United Kingdom are not very tall, they contain much formerly glaciated terrain with steep cliffs, talus slopes, high peaks and cirque basins, and generally experience a sub-Arctic climate at relatively low altitudes. Snow and high winds, sometimes in excess of 100 mph (161 km/h), are posssible any month of the year. Rescue operations in these conditions require personnel with specialized mountaineering training and equipment.

The RAFMRS comprises four teams, based at RAF Valley in North Wales, RAF Leuchars and RAF Kinloss in Scotland, and RAF Leeming in England with Central Headquarters located and associated with the MRT at RAF Valley. Helicopter operations, frequently used in mountain rescue, are conducted in cooperation with No. 202 Squadron RAF and No. 22 Squadron RAF. These two squadrons, with the four remaining MRTs and headquarters, and the Rescue Coordination Centre at RAF Kinloss, comprise RAF Search and Rescue.

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Credit: Adrian Pingstone

All ten Red Arrows line up ready prior to a display at Kemble Airfield, Gloucestershire, England.

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Ian Willoughby Bazalgette, VC , DFC, (19 October 1918 - 4 August 1944), was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and while serving in the Royal Air Force was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

With the end of his tour of 28 operations, Bazalgette was on a leave in April 1944 when he was "recruited" and transferred to No. 635 Squadron RAF No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group based in Norfolk. When his conversion training was completed, 25 year-old "Baz" flew as Acting Squadron Leader, taking part in a number of operations in and around the D-Day campaign, including some operations of which he was the Master Bomber.

On 4 August 1944 at Trossy St. Maximin, France, Squadron Leader Bazalgette's Lancaster bomber was amongst a formation spearhead on a daylight raid on German positions. When near his target, his bomber came under severe anti-aircraft fire from the ground, putting both starboard engines out of action and causing a serious fire. In spite of this, the squadron leader pressed on to the target, marking and bombing it accurately. He then attempted to bring the burning aircraft to safety, having ordered those members of his crew who were able to do so to bail out. Although he managed to land the plane, it immediately exploded, killing him and his remaining two wounded crew members. It was for this action that he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

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Airbus A400M Rollout.JPG
The Airbus A400M is a four-engine turboprop aircraft, designed by EADS (Airbus Military) to meet the demand of European nations for military airlift.

The project began as the Future International Military Airlifter (FIMA) group, set up in 1982 by Aerospatiale, British Aerospace, Lockheed and MBB to develop a replacement for the C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall. Varying requirements and the complications of international politics caused slow progress. In 1989 Lockheed left the grouping and went on to develop a second generation Hercules, the C-130J. With the addition of Alenia and CASA the FIMA group became Euroflag.

Following the revision of procurement totals the revised total requirement was for 180 aircraft, with first flight in 2008 and first delivery in 2009. The Royal Air Force have a preliminary order of 25 aircraft to be delivered in 2010.

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Military history (British military history task force, Military aviation task force)  • United Kingdom

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