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Red Arrows will not be axed according to David Cameron

By EGrover__LE  |  Posted: February 20, 2013

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The Red Arrows will not be axed while David Cameron is Prime Minister, Number 10 has announced.

The assurances came during a visit to India this week, where Mr Cameron told the Indian prime minister the RAF could help the country’s aerobatics team, known as Surya Kiran or The Sun Rays.

It follows recent speculation that the Reds could be shut down in a round of new cuts.

A Number 10 source said: “The Prime Minister is clear that for as long as he is in Downing Street the Red Arrows will grace the skies of Britain.”

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The Indian government has signalled an interest in buying more of the British-built Hawk planes, which are used by the Red Arrows.

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18 comments

  • Pete67  |  February 24 2013, 9:45AM

    Bolshie - - - Well we might always slightly disagree on the Red Arrows, but I definitely think we can agree on this. There's only one slight problem - which of the forces would volunteer to take them?

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  • Bolshie  |  February 23 2013, 9:16PM

    Nothing wrong with patriotism Pete67 - I've spent my entire working life in military service and I would happily stay up all night watching England play tiddlywinks. You make an interesting point about the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - I believe Parliament and the House of Lords are poorer places for having virtually no-one with military experience in them any more. Perhaps if politicians had to do a stint of 'National Service' (either military or civilian working in hospitals, as PCSOs etc) before they took their seats they'd be more in tune with the public they serve, they'd learn the true meaning of public service - and decisions could be made with a greater degree of public sensitivity than they are given by various think tanks, Quangos and spin doctors they employ now.

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  • Pete67  |  February 23 2013, 3:22PM

    Bolshie - - - About 80 events in a season means it could be more or it could be less which is why I put 'obviously it will vary from time to time'. I see you have done the full checking on the prices and sponsoring so I assume that it's all right. I did also put that nothing went back directly to the defence budget (any profits would go to the Red Arrows budget, and indirectly to the defence budget). Sylvia though did have more than one record out in the UK, but most of her hits were on the Continent. My argument though is still why should we always drop things which make Britain stand out in the World. At one time we used to be famous for many thing, but thanks to poor Governing most have either been closed down or allowed to go to Foreign Countries or Foreign owners. I even notice now on most forms you get British as a Nationality well all of these I write English as opposed to British as I'm English first and British second. I might be called a little Englander, but I'm still proud of my Country, though I'm ashamed at what it has become. Surely we need something we can still be proud of (including the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight).

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  • Bolshie  |  February 23 2013, 12:59PM

    Pete67, I can fill some of your gaps for you. The Red Arrows do about 80 events in a season, selected by a committee from about 400 requests per year, based on those that most closely relate to their raison-de-etre (Raising the profile of the RAF, Britain and British Engineering, and supporting RAF recruiting activity). They do flypasts only en route to or from one of these approved events. There is no charge for an appearance, a flypast attracts a £20 charge to cover admin costs, and beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to support one of the Reds chosen charities. So £nil remains what they bring directly back to the defence budget (acknowledging they affect private spending so contribute to tax raised and thus indirectly, the defence budget; and noting that in the Government accounting model this does not balance the books). The RAF do not consider overseas events a fair charge to the public purse so their cost is covered by sponsorship - currently BAE Systems, Babcock, Marshall Landrover and Brierley. The £9.8M is the cost of meeting only the events in Britain. The only tangible benefit to the RAF is recruiting (ca 1000 pers pa supporting a whole force (Regular and Aux) of ca 42,000 . The Red Arrows are only part of the cost of achieving this). Your anecdote highlights that your client convinced you of Ms Velthammer's worth by demonstrating she wasn't a 'one trick pony'. Which is exactly what I've been saying about the Red Arrows. You misunderstand me - I am indeed a Red Arrows fan and I have no desire to see them lose their identity. What I have been trying to highlight is that the question of how essential they are keeps coming up - this is due to the high cost for low (tangible) return. I believe that to survive in the longer term they must: diversify; change the funding model to a public/private partnership; or, be much clearer on what they (tangibly) bring to the party. I suspect that relying on reputation and unsupported anecdotal 'evidence' of significant (but intangible)economic benefit will not keep them going much longer. They, or their message, must change or they'll be joining the Dodo.

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  • Pete67  |  February 22 2013, 1:42PM

    Bolshie 'How do they make money directly? How much is it?' - - - The money they make comes from how much they charge for an appearance (I've never booked them so don't know how much they charge), and obviously it will vary from time to time as to how many bookings they get. There have also been times they haven't been allowed to fly due to safety reasons). As I stated before how much they bring has a whole lot of different circumstances that will affect the amount they bring. I remember in the seventies hearing Sylvia Vrethammer's 'Y Viva Espana', and in my line of work (Radio/TV repairs), you can Guarantee that I soon tired of it. After a couple of weeks I had to go to fix a new radiogram, and the customer had the album. I noted the picture on the back, and she insisted I play 'Let me love you' (one of the tracks), at which I did. I might have been fed up of the title track, but on my way back to the workshop I bought a copy of the album just for the back picture, and that track which was also the B side of the single. I wouldn't have bought the single, but the two made me buy. You may not be convinced by the Red Arrows, but I fear you are in a minority. Would you suggest they should be privatised so they could advertise some US or German (or anywhere else), product or be painted in their colours? I'll stick to the red, white and blue, and be grateful for their enriching my (along with millions of others lives.

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  • Bolshie  |  February 22 2013, 11:57AM

    Pete67, I can see what you're saying but to me it still doesn't stack up. You acknowledge they can't make money that goes to the defence budget directly and that the rest is impossible to calculate/quantify so is at best an assumption of (in Lincolnshire) a partisan group of people. You say "The actual money they make directly helps to pay for them" - How do they make money directly? How much is it? I do though concede the defence budget will allow in some way for support to those elements of all 3 services whose primary role is support to Britain via tourism/trade, upholding reputation etc - the fact this keeps coming up though indicates the scrutiny these aspects of the Armed Forces are constantly subjected to. In that respect the Red Arrows need to be crystal clear on what they bring to the party in order to maintain Government support.

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  • Pete67  |  February 22 2013, 9:13AM

    Bolshie 'The thing I can quantify is the amount they bring back into the Defence Budget- nothing' - - - How can they bring any amount into the defence budget directly. The actual money they make directly helps to pay for them, but indirectly they bring trade, and visitors to Britain. The amount of trade and/or visitors is almost impossible to calculate as other factors also come in to the equation. e.g. some Foreign visitor may want to see them, but also wants to see something like the Tower of London, so uses the visit to do both. Foreign Countries may also be swayed into buying British arms from us after seeing them perform their routine. If things are bought British or in the UK some of the money goes directly or indirectly into Central Government coffers, and hence part goes into the defence budget. Obviously there are too many variables in the figures to give any complete figure so how can it be done? I know one thing though most British people who have seen them in action realise what brilliant Ambassadors they are for the UK.

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  • Bolshie  |  February 21 2013, 8:27PM

    @ Pete67 - You're wrong, I did consider income generated by the Red Arrows but found I couldn't reliably quantify it so discounted it. The thing I can quantify is the amount they bring back into the Defence Budget - nothing, leaving an operating defecit of £9.8M pa. If you can tell me how much they actually bring in and who gets it I'll revise my view. I agree the RAF are a Force - but maintain the Red Arrows contribute little or nothing to their operational effect and add only a minor recruiting and reputation effect. I understand the way the Government raise and distribute money and after 36 years military service I'm more than familiar with how the Armed Forces are engaged in that process. We are most definitely 'in business' in that we have to justify every penny and in the current financial shortages have to prioritise resources by measuring 'effect' of investment against core output requirements in the same way any other business does. If we want anything that costs over £500 we have to submit business cases supported by cost benefit analysis supporting defense objectives achievements....... We are increasingly 'business' focussed as we are driven to achieve ever greater efficiency - a term for which our Government and Civil Service masters understand only one meaning, reduced costs and (simultaneously) increased output. I don't actually have anything against the Red Arrows - I enjoy their displays as much as anyone else does. I can though think of quite a few things in Britain we can be proud of, and I can see why the Red Arrows might be vulnerable, they need to do more than aerobatic displays if they are to survive in the longer term - the Dodo died off because it failed to adapt to a changing environment.

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  • Pete67  |  February 21 2013, 6:47PM

    Bolshie - - - You obviously haven't considered all the money the Red Arrows bring into the UK from Foreign Airshows, and demonstrations at weapons fairs etc (also from British Airshows with many Foreigners coming to see them). Add to this that they are also funded by all UK tax-payers via Central Government who pass a small amount on for the services (Army, Navy and RAF). The RAF in turn pass a very small amount on for the Red Arrows who in turn do a very good job for Britain. I for one believe that the Red Arrows are one of the very few things in the UK today that we can be proud of, and that the Royal Air Force (along with the Army and the Navy), are not in 'business', but a force despite all the Government cuts that have been made over the years.

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  • Bolshie  |  February 21 2013, 9:56AM

    I agree with Armyoldsweat - the RAF's core business is defence of UK airspace and it is unfair of central government to expect them to spend a big chunk of their budget to do that on an aerobatic display team. The same argument applies to the Queen's Guards, the Household Cavalry, military bands etc; albeit they have a more overtly operational link than do the Red Arrows. I see this as a funding issue - if they contribute more to tourism and local economies than they do defence they should come off the defence balance sheet and be funded by central government, the tourist board or private contributions from the benefiting businesses. I wonder how many of those rating down Armyoldsweat's post would also be irate if the Red Arrows 'survival' came about - but funded by the council taxpayers of Lincolnshire?

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