RAF Centenary

Part of Leaving the EU – in the House of Commons at 6:09 pm on 26th November 2018.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence 6:09 pm, 26th November 2018

My hon. Friend is right to point that out. This goes to show the depth and the range of roles that the RAF has to perform. People are often attracted to and talk about the fast jet capability of the Royal Air Force, but it is equally important not to forget the much wider role that it plays in terms of surveillance and reconnaissance, which is absolutely critical in dealing with the threats that we are having to manage today. There is also the ability to deliver heavy lift. We have one of the most impressive—I would go further and say the most impressive—heavy lift operation of any air force in the world. I notice my hon. Friend Robert Courts agreeing with that, as it is based in his constituency. No other country, whether it is Germany, Italy, Spain or France, has anything that is even vaguely comparable. The RAF is not just about our past and our present; it is very much about our future. This is about what our future Air Force looks like. We know that air power is critical to our security today, but in a darkening world, with the dangers intensifying, the RAF’s ability to project power around the globe at pace will be a vital part of our tomorrow.

We have spent a landmark year putting our formidable future Air Force plan into place. This has been about bringing to fruition the world-beating fifth generation F-35B Lightning stealth fighters, which have been doing trials off the east coast of the United States off our Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. The fact that we now have these aircraft stationed at RAF Marham plays an important role in making sure that Britain’s defence in the future is secured.