Text: Patrick Brouckaert - Historical research: Serge Van Heertum - Translations: Marc Arys
Pictures: Patrick Brouckaert - SBAP team as mentioned - Main Picture: Courtesy Eurofighter Media
© sbap 2018
 
Historic Summary of a Centenary in good shape
 
 

The RAF was founded on April 1st, 1918, towards the end of the First World War by merging the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. After the war, the RAF was greatly reduced in size and during the inter-war years was used to "police" the British Empire. The RAF underwent rapid expansion prior to and during the Second World War. During the war it was responsible for the aerial defence of Great Britain, the strategic bombing campaign against Germany and tactical support to the British Army around the world.
During the Cold War, the main role of the RAF was the defence of the continent of Europe against potential attack by the Soviet Union, including holding the British nuclear deterrent for a number of years. After the end of the Cold War, the RAF took part in several large scale operations, including the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
Formation: While the British were not the first to make use of heavier-than-air military aircraft, the RAF is the world's oldest independent air force: that is, the first air force to become independent of army or navy control.

  

Born on April 1st, 1918 by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service, the new corps was controlled by the British Government Air Ministry which had been established three months earlier. The Royal Flying Corps had been born out of the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers and was under the control of the British Army. The Royal Naval Air Service was its naval equivalent and was controlled by the Admiralty. The decision to merge the two services and create an independent air force was a response to the events of World War I, the first war in which air power made a significant impact. The creation of the new force was based on the Smuts Report prepared by Field Marshal Jan Smuts for the Imperial War Cabinet on which he served.
To emphasize the merger of both military and naval aviation in the new service, many of the titles of officers were deliberately chosen to be of a naval character, such as flight lieutenant, wing commander, group captain, and air commodore.
The newly created RAF was the most powerful air force in the world on its creation, with over 20,000 aircraft and over 300,000 personnel (including the Women's Royal Air Force). The squadrons of the RFC kept their numerals while those of the RNAS were renumbered from 201 onwards. At the time of the merger, the Navy's air service had 55,066 officers and men, 2,949 aircraft, 103 airships and 126 coastal stations. The remaining personnel and aircraft came from the RFC. A memorial to the RAF was commissioned after the war in central London. The RAF's last known surviving founder member was the World War I veteran Henry Allingham who died in 2009 aged 113.

  
The most common RAF planes in 1918: Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Sopwith F.1 Camel
(Serge Van Heertum©)
  
Between the war

Following the end of World War I and the accompanying British defence cuts, the newly independent (and still temporary) RAF waited nine months to see if it would be retained by the Cabinet. 6,500 officers, all holding temporary commissions or seconded from the Army and Navy, applied for permanent commissions. The Cabinet sanctioned a maximum of 1,500 and the Air Ministry offered 1,065 to the applicants, publishing the first list on August 1st, 1919, 75% of them short-term (two to five years). The service as a whole had been reduced in strength to 35,500.

Policing the Empire: The RAF took up the task of policing the British Empire from the air. It was argued that the use of air power would prove to be a more cost-effective way of controlling large areas than by using conventional land forces. Sir Hugh Trenchard, the Chief of the Air Staff, had formulated ideas about the use of aircraft in colonial policing and these were first put into practice in 1920 when the RAF and imperial ground units defeated rebel Somaliland dervishes. The following year, in 1921, the RAF was given responsibility for all British forces in Iraq with the task of "policing" the tribal unrest. The RAF also saw service in Afghanistan in 1925, where they were employed independently for the first time in their history, then again in 1928, when following the outbreak of civil war, the British Legation and some European diplomatic staff based in Kabul were cut off.

Activities in Great Britain: It was during the inter-war years that the RAF had to fight for its survival - some questioned the need for a separate air force, especially in peacetime. To prevent itself being disbanded and its duties returned to the Army and the Navy, the RAF spent considerable energies keeping itself in the public eye by such things as the annual Hendon Air Show, supporting a team for the Schneider Trophy air racing competition, and by producing documentary films. In 1936, a reorganization of RAF command saw the creation of Fighter Command, Bomber Command and Coastal Command.

Naval aviation: The creation of the RAF removed all aircraft and flying personnel from the Navy, although the Admiralty remained in control of aircraft carriers. On April 1st, 1924, the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force was formed under Air Ministry control. It consisted of those RAF units that were normally embarked on aircraft carriers and fighting ships. The Chief of the Air Staff, Lord Trenchard, his air staff and his successors argued that "air is one and indivisible" and hence that naval aviation was properly the responsibility of the RAF. The Admiralty took the opposite view and, during the first half of the 1920s, pressed hard for the return of naval aviation to their control. It has been argued that the British defence arrangements in the inter-war years had a serious impact upon the doctrinal development of British naval air power as the Navy lacked experienced naval aviators.
During the 1920s and first half of the 1930s, Government spending on the RAF was limited and the air staff put a higher priority on strategic bombing than on naval aviation. The result of this was that by the late 1930s the Fleet Air Arm was equipped with outdated aircraft like the Fairey Swordfish (A three-man biplane torpedo bomber), among others, in limited numbers, as the rival Imperial Japanese Naval Air Service began using the Nakajima B5N all-metal low-winged monoplane torpedo bomber from the IJN's aircraft carriers by 1938 as one example of how the Fleet Air Arm's aviation technology was literally "being left behind" by one of its future foes. By 1936, the Admiralty were once again campaigning for the return of naval aviation to their control. This time they were successful and on 30 July 1937, the Admiralty took over responsibility for the administration of the Fleet Air Arm. Under two years later, on May 24th, 1939, the Fleet Air Arm was returned to full Admiralty control under the Inskip Award and renamed the Air Branch of the Royal Navy.
Strategic bombing: The RAF developed its doctrine of strategic bombing which led to the construction of long-range bombers and became the basic philosophy in the Second World War.
  
Hawker Fury Mk.I  43 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Gloster Gladiator Mk.I  73 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Bristol 105 Bulldog Mk.IIA  54 Sqn
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
Hawker Demon Mk.I  64 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
World War II

The RAF underwent rapid expansion following the outbreak of war against Germany in 1939. This included the training of British aircrews in British Commonwealth countries under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and the secondment of many whole squadrons, and tens of thousands of individual personnel, from Commonwealth air forces. For example, by the end of the war, Royal Canadian Air Force personnel had contributed more than 30 squadrons to service with RAF formations; almost a quarter of Bomber Command's personnel were Canadian. Similarly, about nine percent of the personnel who served with the RAF in Europe and the Mediterranean were seconded from the Royal Australian Air Force. To these and other British Commonwealth personnel were later added thousands of men from other countries, including many who had fled from German-occupied Europe.
A defining period of the RAF's existence came during the Battle of Britain. Over the summer of 1940, the RAF held off the Luftwaffe in perhaps the most prolonged and complicated air campaign in history. This arguably contributed immensely to the delay and cancellation of German plans for an invasion of the United Kingdom (Unternehmen Seelöwe). Of these few hundred RAF fighter pilots, Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said in the House of Commons on 20 August, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". Although, he first spoke these words upon exiting the Battle of Britain Bunker at RAF Uxbridge on 16 August. However, in recent years some military historians have controversially suggested that the RAF's actions would not have prevented an invasion and that the key deterrent was the Royal Navy's command of the sea.
The main RAF effort during the war was the strategic bombing campaign against Germany. From May 31st, 1942 RAF Bomber Command was able to mount large-scale night raids, sometimes involving up to 1.000 aircraft. From mid-1942 increasing numbers of these aircraft were heavy four-engined bombers such as the Handley-Page Halifax and the Avro Lancaster. Noteworthy raids include Operation Millennium against Cologne, the first 1000 bomber raid; Operation Chastise, the "Dambusters" raids on targets in the Ruhr Valley; Operation Gomorrah, the destruction of Hamburg; and the "Battle of Berlin". The lighter, fast two-engine de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber was used for tactical raids like Operation Carthage, a raid on the Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen; Operation Jéricho the attack of the Amiens prison in France; as well as a night-fighter or pathfinder.

  
Battle of Britain Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia  19 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc  17 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Avro Lancaster B Mk.I  9 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
De Havilland DH;98 Mosquito T.3    633 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Fairchild UC-61K Argus III   225 Sqn 
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Westland Lysander Mk.IIIA  161 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The history of the RAF are also men and women
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Bristol Blenheim Mk.IVF  68 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
RAF in Africa: Curtiss P-40M Kittyhawk III  112 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIC  261 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
RAF on D-DAY: North American B-25N Mitchell III  320 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Vicker Supermarine Spitfire Mk. PRXIX   91 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
  

After the war

Arab-Israeli War 1948
Following the end of the British Mandate of Palestine, the State of Israel was founded on May 14th, 1948. Egyptian forces crossed into Israeli territory as part of a wider Arab League military coalition, with the Royal Egyptian Air Force providing light bombers as well as Spitfires. On 22 May, the Egyptians attacked RAF Ramat David, believing the base had already been taken over by Israeli forces. Two Royal Egyptian Air Force Spitfire LF.IXs strafed RAF Spitfire FR.XVIIIs of No. 32 Squadron and No. 208 Squadron on the ground. Flying Officers Geoff Cooper and Roy Bowie of 208 Squadron. then took off in their Spitfire FR.XVIIIs to mount a standing patrol. Three Egyptian Spitfire LF.IXs launched a second attack, two of which were shot down by Cooper and Bowie. Flying Officers Mc Elhaw and Hully, also of 32 Squadron, took over the standing patrol before the third wave of Egyptian Spitfires arrived. Flying Officer Mc Elhaw shot both of these down.
Due to the confused circumstances of the 1948 Middle East conflict, the RAF found itself fighting the Jewish militias, and later, the nascent Israeli Air Force. Royal Air Force bases in the region were attacked by both sides and reconnaissance aircraft were shot down. Among others, on January 7th, 1949, Flying Officer Mc Elhaw, who participated in the action against Egyptians described above, and two other pilots, were shot down by Israeli Spitfires while reconnoitering the aftermath of air attack on an Israeli column by Egyptian aircraft.

Cold War (1947-1990)
After victory in World War II, the RAF was to be further re-organized, as technological advances in air warfare saw the arrival of jet fighters and bombers. The first significant Cold War action of the RAF was its support to the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and 1949 which was originally designated Operation Knicker and Operation Carter-Paterson and later titled Operation Plainfare.
Although the United Kingdom did not base any RAF squadrons in Korea during the Korean War, the Independent reported that 41 RAF officers seconded to serve with the United States Air Force, several RAF pilots saw action while on exchange with the USAF, mainly flying F-86 Sabre, they were credited with seven kills. At least one pilot was killed when his F-84E Thunderjet was shot down by anti-aircraft fire on January 2nd, 1952 as he attempted to strafe a column of trucks near Sunsan, a village north of Pyongyang. Other RAF pilots flew Meteors in Royal Australian Air Force squadrons on ground support attacks. Two flights of Army Cooperation aircraft flew in support of artillery spotting and reconnaissance. In addition, three RAF squadrons of flying boats based in Singapore detached one squadron at a time on a monthly rotational basis to Japan and flew maritime and meteorological reconnaissance missions in the Yellow sea and Tushima Straits.
To complement the UK nuclear weapons which were difficult to manufacture quickly, in 1958 the RAF and other NATO nations were provided with American nuclear weapons under Project E as a stopgap measure. The UK had manufactured less than 50 of the 200 atomic and hydrogen bombs it required at that stage. The RAF V bomber squadrons took sole responsibility for carrying the UK's nuclear deterrent until the development of the Royal Navy's Polaris submarines. Following the introduction of Polaris in 1968 the RAF's strategic nuclear role was reduced to a tactical one, using the WE.177 gravity bombs. This tactical role was continued by the V bombers into the 1980s and until 1998 by Tornado GR1s.

  
Vickers Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. XVIe   41 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Gloster Meteor NF.11
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Gloster Meteor T.7 & De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.11
Central Flying School Scampton
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hawker Hunter F.58
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Lockheed C-130K Hercules C.1  24 Sqn
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
De Havilland DH.106 Comet C.4   216 Sqn
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
De Havilland DH-104 Devon C.2  207 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Bristol Bloodhound surface-to-air missile
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 
The primary role of the RAF in the Cold War years was the defence of Western Europe against potential attack by the Soviet Union, with many squadrons based in West Germany. With the decline of the British Empire, global operations were scaled back, and RAF Far East Air Force was disbanded on 31 October 1971.
Despite this, the RAF fought in many battles in the Cold War period. In June 1948 the RAF commenced Operation Firedog against Malayan terrorists during the Malayan Emergency. Operations continued for the next 12 years until 1960 with aircraft flying out of RAF Tengah and RAF Butterworth. The RAF played a minor role in the Korean War, with flying boats taking part. From 1953 to 1956 the RAF Avro Lincoln squadrons carried out anti-Mau Mau operations in Kenya using its base at RAF Eastleigh. The Suez Crisis in 1956 saw a large RAF role, with aircraft operating from RAF Akrotiri and RAF Nicosia on Cyprus and RAF Luqa and RAF Hal Far on Malta as part of Operation Musketeer. The Confronts against Indonesia in the early 1960s did see use of RAF aircraft, but due to a combination of deft diplomacy and selective ignoring of certain events by both sides, it never developed into a full-scale war.
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2  35 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
English Electric Lightning F.3   11 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4K Phantom II FG.1  43 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Aerospatiale SA341D Gazelle HT.3 & Westland WS-55 Whirlwind HAR.10
2 Flying Training School RAF Shawbury
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hawker Siddeley Nimrod R.1 - Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4K Phantom II FG.1
Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B
(Serge Van Heertum©)
English Electric Lightning F.3 - Handley Page Victor K.1A
Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4K Phantom II FG.1
English Electric Canberra T.17
(Serge Van Heertum©)
English Electric Canberra PR.9 - Avro 698 Vulcan B.2
Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B - Hawker Siddeley Harrier T.2
Sepecat Jaguar GR.1A
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Royal Air Force Germany 1977: Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4K Phantom II FG.1
Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B - Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3
Sepecat Jaguar GR.1A
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hawker Hunter T.7 - Hawker Hunter F.6
4 Flying Training School RAF Chivenor
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Avro 696 Shackleton AEW2  8 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Westland WS-55 Whirlwind HAR.10  202 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Westland Wessex HAR.2   22 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Panavia Tornado GR.1 prototype
(Serge Van Heertum©)
British Aerospace Hawk T.1  4 FTS
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
Belize (1975-1994)
Belize (the former British Honduras) had been threatened for a number of years by Guatemala which claimed rights to the territory. In 1975 following the breakdown in negotiations between the United Kingdom and Guatemala, Guatemalan troops were active close to the border, and in October 1975 three Westland Puma helicopters were flown out to Belize Airport as the British garrison was reinforced to a 1.000 troops. In November six Hawker Siddeley Harriers of 1st Squadron were flown to Belize to provide some defence of the border and support the troops. By April 1976 the threat had reduced the Harriers were flown back to the United Kingdom. Further negotiations failed to come to an agreement and in June 1977 the garrison was again reinforced with six Harriers returning in July. Although Belize was not invaded the Pumas and Harriers were kept in Belize. The airfield was defended by the RAF Regiment with Rapier and Bofors L40/70 detachments. While there was a civil war in Guatemala in the 1970s and 1980s, the British forces provided a deterrent as well as using the country for jungle warfare training. In 1991 Guatemala recognized Belize and the Harriers left in July 1993 and the Pumas in 1994.
 
Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Aerospatiale SA330 Puma HC.1
(Serge Van Heertum©)
  

Falklands War (1982)
The Falklands War in 1982 was mainly fought by the Navy and Army due to the distance of the battlefield from friendly airfields. However RAF aircraft were deployed in the mid-Atlantic at RAF Ascension Island and on board the Navy's aircraft carriers alongside aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm. A detachment from No. 1 Squadron was deployed to the British Fleet during the War, operating from HMS Hermes and flying ground attack missions against Argentine forces. RAF pilots also flew Royal Navy Sea Harriers in the air-to-air combat role and four RAF pilots shot down five Argentine aircraft.
The most high-profile RAF missions in this conflict were the famous "Black Buck" raids using Avro Vulcans flying from Ascension Island. However, the Service did many other things during the conflict, with its helicopters in the Falklands themselves, its Harrier GR3s flying from HMS Hermes, its fighter aircraft protecting Ascension, Nimrod MR2 maritime patrol aircraft scanning the South Atlantic, and tanker and transport fleet helping in the enormous logistical effort required for the war.
After the war the RAF remained in the South Atlantic to provide air defence to the Falkland Islands. The mid-Atlantic base on Ascension Island continued to be used as a staging post for the air bridge between the Great Britain and the Falkland Islands. In 1984 RAF Mount Pleasant was built to provide a fighter and transport facility on the islands thereby strengthening the defence capacity of the British Forces. Various radar sites were established and a detachment of the RAF Regiment provided anti-aircraft support until that role was transferred to the Royal Artillery. In 2009 the air defence Tornado F3s were replaced by four Typhoons which are based at RAF Mount Pleasant.

  
Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 XM607 (44 Sqn) was involved in the "Black Buck" raid.
The aircraft is now preserved at RAF Waddington
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Handley Page Victor K.1A  57 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A treasure of war: FMA IA-58A Pucara
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
1990-2000

Gulf War: During the build-up to the Gulf War, RAF fighters were based in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. On January 17th, 1991, the main air campaign began and over 100 RAF aircraft took part in virtually every conceivable role. It marked an important turning point in the RAF's history as it was the first time the service had used precision-guided munitions in significant amounts. In the years following the end of the war, the RAF were involved in operations to enforce the no-fly zones over Iraq and the Service took part in the Bombing of Iraq in 1998.

Balkans: In 1993, RAF Tornado F3s and AWACS aircraft contributed to Operation Deny Flight, NATO's operation to restrict airspace movements over Bosnia and Herzegovina. The operation continued until late 1995.
The Kosovo War in 1999 saw the RAF fight over Europe for the first time since World War II. During the bombing of Yugoslavia, the RAF operated the Harrier GR7 and Tornado ground attack jets as well as an array of support aircraft.
Panavia MRCA Tornado GR.1A  2Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Panavia MRCA Tornado GR.1A  15 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
SEPECAT Jaguar GR.Mk.1A  "Mary Rose"   6 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
SEPECAT Jaguar GR.Mk.1A   6 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B  208 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The Golf War was an opportunity to bring the "Nose Art" up to date
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Handley Page Victor K.2 "Sweet Sue"   55 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Lockheed L-1011 Tristar K.1   216 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
British Aerospace Harrier GR.5   1 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
British Aerospace Harrier GR.7 4 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Panavia MRCA Tornado GR.1A   12 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Panavia MRCA Tornado GR.1A  617 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
SEPECAT Jaguar GR.Mk.1A   41 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
SEPECAT Jaguar GR.Mk.1A   6 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4J Phantom II    74 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4M Phantom II FGR.2   19 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Lockheed C-130K Hercules C.1  RAF Lyneham
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Lockheed C-130K Hercules C.3  RAF Lyneham
(Serge Van Heertum©)
British Aerospace Hawk T.1   234 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
British Aerospace Hawk T.1
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hawker Siddeley HS125 CC.2   32 Sqn  "Queen's Flight"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
British Aerospace Bae 146 CC.2   32 Sqn "Queen's Flight"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
SEPECAT Jaguar GR.Mk.1A    54 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Panavia Tornado F.3    56 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
English Electric Canberra PR.9    39 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1   8 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 

2001-present
War on Terror: As part of the British contribution (codenamed Operation Veritas) to the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan at the start of the War in Afghanistan, the RAF provided support to the United States by operating air-to-air refueling tankers and reconnaissance aircraft as well as proving the use of its bases. Chinook helicopters have provided airlift support to coalition forces. In late 2004, as part of Operation Herrick, RAF Harriers were based at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, operating in the close air support role against the Taliban. The Harriers were replaced by an equivalent force of Tornados GR4 in spring 2009.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq saw a large RAF deployment to the Gulf, including RAF strike aircraft. The RAF also staged the base for the 4 US B-52 Bombers which attacked Iraq almost every night. The only RAF losses were a friendly fire incident when an RAF Tornado jet was shot down by a US Patriot missile killing both pilot and Weapons Systems Operator due to the Patriot missile mistakenly recognizing the Tornado as a Mig, and a Hercules transport plane shot down by ground fire killing the ten personnel on board just after take-off from the US controlled airfield. Following the invasion occupation of southern Iraq by British Forces, the RAF was deployed at Basra. As part of Operation Telic, Merlin, Puma and Chinook helicopters operated from Basra, protected by the RAF Regiment, forming 903 Expeditionary Air Wing.
In January 2013, the RAF supported Operation Serval, the French-led operation against Islamist militants in Mali. The UK's contribution was codenamed Operation Newcombe, C-17 Globemasters from No. 99 Squadron transported French armored vehicles from French Évreux Air Base to the Malian capital Bamako. The RAF deployed also a Sentinel R1 aircraft at the request of the French for surveillance support.
The RAF conducted also the Operation Turus in response the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping by Boko Haram in Nigeria in April 2014. A source involved with the Operation told that "The girls were located in the first few weeks of the RAF mission," and that "The RAF offered to rescue them, but the Nigerian government declined," this was because it viewed any action to be taken as a "national issue," and for it to be resolved by Nigerian intelligence and security services, the source added that the girls were then tracked by the aircraft as they were dispersed into progressively smaller groups over the following months. As of March 4th, 2017, 195 out of the 276 girls kidnapped were still missing.
As from 2014 until today, the RAF is participating in the Military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the British participation is codenamed Operation Shader. Flying out of RAF bases in Cyprus, they have been known to have destroyed multiple ISIL targets and deliver humanitarian aid in Iraq as well as carry out surveillance missions in Syria.
Libyan civil war: In 2011 the RAF played a significant role in the NATO intervention in Libya. The British participation was codenamed Operation Ellamy and the RAF contribution involved the deployment of Typhoon multirole fighters, Tornado GR4 interdictor/strike aircraft, Sentry AEW.1 AWACS aircraft, a Nimrod R1 signals intelligence aircraft, a Sentinel R1 airborne standoff radar aircraft, Vickers VC10 and Lockheed TriStar tankers.
Other operations and activities: In 2004, four RAF Tornado F3s deployed to the Baltic States for three months to provide the British contribution to the NATO led Baltic Air Policing operation and in 2005 support and transport aircraft were dispatched to South East Asia following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake disaster in order to provide aid relief support.
In September 2016, it was reported that four RAF Typhoon fighter jets from No. 2 Squadron with supporting Voyager aircraft from No. 10 and 101 Squadrons, as well as C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, were deployed to South Korea to take part in Exercise Invincible Shield which marked the first time that South Korea hosted a major air exercise with an air force other than the United States. The Exercise's goal was to enhance interoperability between the RAF, Korean Air Force and USAF, whilst deepening the UK and Republic of Korea's partnership in security and defense.
In October 2016, the RAF was also deployed to Japan as part of Invincible Shield where they took part in their first-ever joint exercise drills with the Japanese air self-defense force, South Korean and USAF air assets also took part in the exercises. South Korean and US officials said that the goal of the exercise was to improve the allies' ability to strike key targets in North Korea, including military facilities and those linked to the regime's leader, Kim Jong-un. The drill in Japan was also known as Exercise Guardian North 16 and it ended begin of November. The exercises in South Korea included the first United Kingdom - Republic of Korea Fighter exercise that took place from November 4th until November 11th.

 
Westland Sea King HAR.3A    22 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Short S-312 Tucano T.1    1 TFS
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Boeing CH-47D Chinook HC.2    7 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4    29 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Grob G115E Tutor    3 TFS
(Jacques Vincent©)
Embraer Phenom 100EV   
(Philippe Decock©)
Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II    617 Sqn     (Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
   
London July 10th, 2018...The RAF 100 Parade
   
Preparation of the RAF village   (Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
  

Anno 2018 is undeniably the year of the Royal Air Force, celebrating her 100th anniversary about everywhere in the country but particularly during the airshows in Great-Britain. This unique event was put forward in various ways, culminating in London on July 10th, in presence of the Royal family with a fly past of around 100 aircraft wearing proudly the colours of the Royal Air Force.
On July 10th, 100 years after her official creation, London celebrated this centenary and SBAP was eager to be part of it and in doing so, emphasizing on this anniversary. The ceremony was held at Buckingham Palace and the numerous visitors were able to attend the event all along the Mall, from Trafalgar Square to the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace.
The famous fly past was planned at 13.00 hrs local time and, during the morning, the public had the possibility to visit the RAF village where some mock-ups and aircraft were displayed. 300 members of the Royal Air Force lined up perfectly along the Mall, as the servicemen of Her Majesty can do.
During this time, the Queen Elisabeth II and her family attended a service at the Westminster Cathedral, followed by a welcome of honoured guests. The Queen then reviewed the troops before going to the balcony at Buckingham Palace to watch the parade dedicated to this dashing centenary.
The parade towards Buckingham Palace counted a thousand women and men wearing the blue uniform, accompanied by the various marching bands of the RAF. That way the Mall saw all the standards of the Royal Air Force parade through to rejoin the Royal House.
100 aircraft of 23 different types and about 200 pilots and crewmembers, without counting the ground personnel, were necessary to successfully complete this historical fly past.
Gathering 100 aircraft in a perfect fly past was not the easiest thing to do and the 25 participating squadrons were spread along 14 military airbases and 3 civil airfields. As to cover every bit of this historical salute, numerous camera equipped helicopters also took to the air to allow the BBC to have a real-time image streaming on this unique event.
Also unique, was the presence of the first F-35B Lightning II, just flown in from the United States some days before and based at Marham within the renowned 617 Squadron "Dambusters", reactivated to welcome these 5th generation fighters.
The fly past was opened by Puma and Chinook helicopters and concluded by 22 Eurofighter Typhoon, drawing the number 100 in the London skies, just before the Royal Air Force aerobatic team, the well known and worldwide appreciated "Red Arrows". The Typhoons took off from RAF Coningsby in the Lincolnshire and it took about 8 minutes to have all these aircraft and their spares in the air, bound for the capital city of the United Kingdom.
To mark this occasion, a giant roundel was placed at the Saint James Park and some 70.000 spectators gave a standing ovation at the end of the event. Simply fantastic to see the popular zeal towards their air force, their Royal Air Force!
Being in London for this unique event, it was also the opportunity to go to the Battle of Britain monument in Whitehall, along the Thames River. To pay a tribute to all who fought to change the course of history, was the least that I could do.
Hereby a photographic summary of this magnificent event and see you all in 2118 for the bicentenary, but this will be another story… Happy Birthday Royal Air Force!

  
Aircraft and mock up exhibition   (Patrick Brouckaert©) (Patrick Brouckaert©)

The Mall   (Patrick Brouckaert©) (Patrick Brouckaert©)
Security...   
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
...and television broadcast are ready for the great parade
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
 300 members of the Royal Air Force lined up perfectly along the Mall      (Patrick Brouckaert©)
 When a RAF veteran cross a young RAF pilot...          (Patrick Brouckaert©)
King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery   (Patrick Brouckaert©) Royal Air Force regiments   (Patrick Brouckaert©)
RAF Waddington Pipes and Drums   (Patrick Brouckaert©) (Patrick Brouckaert©)
Arrival of the RAF standards    (Patrick Brouckaert©) (Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) (Patrick Brouckaert©)
Her Majesty the Queen presented new Colours to the RAF
(Courtesy Crown Copyright)
Popular fervor to celebrate the centenary
(Courtesy Crown Copyright)
Do you see our photographer?      (Courtesy Crown Copyright)
 The British Royal Family is waiting the aerial parade above Buckingham Palace    (Patrick Brouckaert©)

(Courtesy RAF Press Office©) (Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
Aerospatial Puma HC.2   230 Sqn
(Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©)
Boeing CH-47D Chinook HC.4  18 Sqn
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
Above the Thames   (Courtesy RAF Press Office©) Puma and Chinook for the opening   (Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) Above Buckingham Palace   (Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
Douglas C-47A Dakota BBMF
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane BBMF
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Short 312 Tucano T.1    72 Sqn - 1 TFS
(Jacques Vincent©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) Beechcraft King Air 350CER Shadow R.1 ISTAR   14 Sqn
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
Lockheed C-130J Hercules C.5   47 Sqn
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Airbus Military A400M Atlas   206 Sqn
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) Boeing C-17 Globemaster III   99 Sqn
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
British Aerospace BAe 146 CC.2   32 Sqn "Queen's Flight"
(Jef Pets©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) Bombardier Raytheon Sentinel R.1    54 Sqn
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
Airbus (A330 MRTT) Voyager KC.2   10 Sqn
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Philippe Decock©) (Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint   51 Sqn
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1   56 Sqn
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) British Aerospace Hawk T.1   100 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
BAE Sysytems Hawk   T.2   4 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) Panavia MRCA Tornado GR.4    14 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The newcomer: Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II     617 Sqn        (Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
Above RAF Marham
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
The three first F-35B in RAF colours above London
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) (Anthony Graulus©)

100 years of excellence...
(Courtesy Crown Copyright)
Twenty two aircraft for the number 100
(Patrick Brouckaert©)

#1 (Bruno Ghils©) - #2 (Philippe Decock©) Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4   29 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum©)

To close the fly past, the national aerobatic team, the "Red Arrows"
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
#1 Ready fro take off  (Philippe Decock©)
#2 Above the Thames and aligned for Buckingham Palace
(Courtesy RAF Press Office©)
...for a fantastic and unforgettable event
(Courtesy Crown Copyright)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) (Patrick Brouckaert©)
One of the commemorative coin to celebrate the RAF centenary
   
The Battle of Britain Memorial
  
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
 

The Battle of Britain Monument in London is a sculpture located in the Whitehall neighborhood, overlooking the Thames River, which commemorates the British military personnel who took part in the Battle of Britain during the Second World War.
The monument was unveiled on September 18th, 2005, on the 65th anniversary of the Battle. The memorial was inaugurated by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in the presence of some surviving airmen known collectively as "The Few".
The monument was conceived by Bill Bond, founder of the Battle of Britain Historical Society.
The monument is made with 25 meter long paneled granite structure. A walkway is cut obliquely through the middle of the structure, and is lined with panels of high relief sculpture in bronze depicting scenes from the Battle of Britain. The centerpiece is an approximately life sized sculpture of airmen scrambling for their aircraft during the battle. The outside of the monument is lined with bronze plates listing 2,936 airmen and ground crew from 14 countries who took part in the battle. The sculptor of the monument is Paul Day. The statue was cast by Morris Singer, which is the oldest established fine art foundry in the world and has cast many prominent statues and sculptures in London and around the world, including the lions and fountains in Trafalgar Square.

 
Scenes from the Battle of Britain
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Scramble
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Bronze plates listing
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Battle summary
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
With a thought for our compatriots
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
609 (R) Squadron
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Paul Day artistic view of the Battle
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Morris Singer did the bronze foundry
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©) 
 

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