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Armed Forces: Air Operations

Volume 712: debated on Thursday 9 July 2009


My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The RAF Regiment provides essential protection to our air assets and Armed Forces serving on operations in Afghanistan. It is structured, equipped and trained for this specialist role. Its RAF Force Protection Wing Headquarters and RAF Regiment Field Squadrons allow air operations to continue despite hostile action, by protecting the base assets, personnel and particularly aircraft on flight paths approaching and departing the base. It is currently delivering in this role on operations at a number of air, joint-service and international operating bases in Afghanistan and, until recently, in Iraq.

I should like to inform the House that, in order to increase the RAF Regiment’s capability, I have decided to establish an additional RAF Force Protection Wing Headquarters and RAF Regiment Field Squadron.

The new RAF Force Protection Wing Headquarters and Regiment Field Squadron will increase the time that their personnel spend between operational deployments, will bring harmony levels more into line with guidelines and will have a positive effect on retention of skilled personnel.

Recruitment and training are under way to meet the additional 12 personnel required for the RAF Force Protection Wing Headquarters and 172 personnel for the RAF Regiment Field Squadron. Both units will be formed in October 2009 and are scheduled to deploy on Op Herrick in April 2011.

An ongoing basing study has determined that the optimum basing solution for the new RAF Regiment Field Squadron will be either RAF Shawbury or RAF Leuchars. The basing work for the headquarters is at an earlier stage and the options have yet to be refined. The final outcome of the studies is expected by autumn 2009.