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Royal Air Force

Air and space force of the United Kingdom / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's air and space force.[3] 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).[4] Following the Allied victory over the Central Powers in 1918, the RAF emerged as the largest air force in the world at the time.[5] Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, during the Second World War, the RAF established clear air superiority over Hermann Göring's Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and led the allied strategic bombing effort.[6]

Quick facts: Royal Air Force, Founded, Country, Allegiance...
Royal Air Force
Founded1 April 1918; 105 years ago (1918-04-01)
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
AllegianceRoyal_Standard_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg King of the United Kingdom
TypeAir and space force
RoleAerial and space warfare
  • 31,710 active personnel (July 2023)[1]
  • 3,080 reserve personnel (July 2023)[1][note 1]
Part ofBritish Armed Forces
Ministry of Defence
Air Staff OfficesWhitehall, London
Motto(s)"Per Ardua ad Astra" (Latin)
(Through Adversity to the Stars)
ColoursRed, white, blue
MarchQuick: Royal Air Force March Past
Slow: Saeculum[2]
Anniversaries1 April
Engagements Edit this at Wikidata
Commander-in-ChiefRoyal_Standard_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg King Charles III
Secretary of State for DefenceFlag_of_the_British_Secretary_of_State_for_Defence.svg Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Chief of the Air StaffUK-Air-OF9-Flag.svg Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton
Deputy Chief of the Air StaffUK-Air-OF8-Flag.svg Air Marshal Paul Lloyd
Air and Space CommanderUK-Air-OF8-Flag.svg Air Marshal Harvey Smyth
Warrant Officer of the Royal Air ForceBritish_Chief_of_the_Air_Staff%27s_Warrant_Officer.svg Warrant Officer Murugesvaran Subramaniam
RoundelRAF_roundel.svg RAF_Lowvis_Army_roundel.svg
Fin flashRAF-Finflash-Noncombat.svg Fin_flash_of_the_United_Kingdom_Low_Visibility.svg
Aircraft flown
FighterTyphoon FGR4
F-35B Lightning
HelicopterChinook HC4/5/6/6A
AW109SP GrandNew
Puma HC2
ReconnaissancePoseidon MRA1
RC-135W Rivet Joint
Shadow R1/1A
TrainerHawk T1/2
Texan T1
Phenom T1
Typhoon T3
Viking T1
Prefect T1
Tutor T1
Juno HT1
Jupiter HT1
TransportVoyager KC2/3
Atlas C1
Envoy IV CC1
TankerVoyager KC2/3

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".[7] 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".[8] 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".[9]

Today, the Royal Air Force maintains an operational fleet of various types of aircraft,[10] described by the RAF as being "leading-edge" in terms of technology.[11] 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 global 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.