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100 Years of the Royal Air Force

  • by: Aimee Treasure
  • On: 19, Sep 2018
1 min read

2018 marks the Centenary of the Royal Air Force. We reveal the importance of the Royal Air Force to global Aerospace and Aviation innovation.

What is the Royal Air Force?


The Royal Air Force is the UK’s aerial warfare force. Created on 1 April 1918, the Royal Air Force (RAF) is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following the 1918 victory in World War I, the RAF emerged as the largest air force in the world.

The RAF was originally formed to help the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) ensure the security and defence of UK and overseas territories and promote international peace. The RAF now plays a central role in leading edge aviation technology, and by maintaining an operational fleet of a variety of aircraft, the RAF works with the Royal Navy and Army Air Corps to prevent conflict and deliver aid to citizens and communities globally.

Global Impact of the Royal Air Force

  • Second World War – At its height in 1944 during the Second World War, more than 1,100,000 personnel were serving in the RAF.
  • RAF in the Cold War – During the Cold War, the RAF was responsible for defending Europe against potential attacks from the Soviet Union, including holding the British nuclear deterrent. After the end of the Cold War, the RAF conducted several large-scale operations to ensure security and protect civilians during the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
  • Humanitarian Aid – In 1948 US President Harry Truman launched Operation Plainfare: 200,000 flights which delivered 8,893 tons of fuel and food to the people of West Berlin every day throughout the year. In the past decade alone, the RAF’s humanitarian efforts include dropping food into Ethiopia during the famine of 2015, delivering 1,500 tonnes of essential shelter kits following Cyclone Pam in 2015 and Hurricane Irma in 2017, and rescued UK drivers caught in the Beast from the East in 2018.

Today the Royal Air Force is engaged today in 15 missions, on 4 continents, in 22 countries.

The Red Arrows

The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the one-of-a-kind aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force.

Formed in 1964, the Red Arrows sees talented RAF members perform unique fascinating flying stunts to entertain crowds in Britain and across the globe. The team’s 54th season will help mark the Royal Air Force’s 100th anniversary with over 60 shows around the UK and the world during the 2018 campaign.

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