Ministers Warned that the Red Arrows Could be Axed
(Source: British Forces News; issued Nov 16, 2017)
The Red Arrows could be axed if the Government fails to support British manufacturing, ministers have been warned.

Labour former defence minister Kevan Jones added the alternative option for the world famous aerobatic team could involve flying jets built in Italy, France or South Korea.

MPs want the Government to bring forward orders, including replacing the Red Arrows' fleet of Hawk aircraft, in a bid to provide additional work for BAE Systems. The company has announced plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs.

They also cast doubt on the Government's suggestion that no new Red Arrows Hawk jets are needed until 2030.

Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North), a Labour member of the Defence Select Committee, said the job cuts could result in a loss of skills and expertise which could "set us back a generation".

Ms Smeeth told the Commons: "Let's be clear, this is a brand-new aircraft and our Red Arrows should be selling it to the world with their own skill set.”

Conservative MP Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) added: "Is it not also the case that there have been some really troubling reports about just how few of our Red Arrows aircraft are actually able to fly at any one time, which is where this date of 2030 does seem somewhat strange to many people who are intimately involved in that particular group?"

Ms Smeeth replied: "Having had the privilege of sitting in Red 1 last year, I absolutely agree. It is our showcase, it shows off the RAF and for us not to be investing in the 100th anniversary of the RAF seems short-sighted to me."

Mr Jones, intervening during a debate on defence aerospace industrial strategy, later asked Ms Smeeth: "Would you agree with me also if that sovereign capability goes, that means either the Red Arrows go altogether or the future Red Arrows will either be flying Italian, French or possibly South Korean aircraft?"

Ms Smeeth replied: "Perish the thought that they should be flying anything other than British-built planes.

"Let's be clear, the date 2030 is not something anyone recognised until recent weeks as a date for renewal of the Hawks.

"And for me, I say this as a young member of the House obviously, the newest Hawk aircraft used by the Red Arrows is six months older than me - this is not showing off the best and brightest of our potential capability right now."

-ends-







prev next

Official reports See all