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Depth and New Capabilities

This paper argues for the increased use of Air Reserves as one important and affordable response to the challenges and developments that now face the air service.

Control of the air, enjoyed by British and allied forces for many years, is vital in any operation, but cannot be taken for granted against peer adversaries. The war in Ukraine shows how critical air power is, but also how complicated the air dimension has become, including with the widespread use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and civilian drones.

The RAF faces the combined challenges of a heightened and diverse strategic threat, difficulties in securing the right talent, and heavily constrained resources. In the case of aircrew, it is also wholly dependent on a slow and costly pipeline for producing pilots that can consume roughly half the average career the RAF gets from its pilots. Furthermore, there is evidence that post- Covid, shortages are emerging in the civil airline sector, threatening a new drain on both pilots and those with other key aviation skills, especially engineering. This paper examines two ways in which the UK Air Reserves offer an opportunity to address, at least in part, these shortages, and to build more mass in an affordable fashion.

The paper by Keith Mans and myself is Here