14 Jul 2017

Close combat roles for RAF women

Speaking at the Air Power Conference 2017, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has announced that ground close combat roles in the RAF Regiment will be open to women, beginning in September.

Sir Michael praised the move, calling it a defining moment in RAF history, opening every role throughout the RAF to all genders. Women will now be allowed into the RAF Regiment, the Air Force’s ground fighting force, protecting RAF bases, aircraft and equipment at home and abroad.

The Defence Secretary said: “A diverse force is a more operationally effective force. So I’m delighted that the RAF Regiment will be open to recruitment to women from September. Individuals who are capable of meeting the standards for the regiment will be given the opportunity to serve, regardless of their gender. This is a defining moment for the RAF, as it becomes the first service to have every trade and branch open to both genders.”

The opening up of recruitment, and particularly close combat for women, throughout all three services was announced in July 2016. By opening the recruitment from Sepetmber, the RAF has advanced its plans from the end of 2018, when the Infantry and Royal Marines also open up roles. However, the opportunity to invite women to recruit into the Regiment earlier than expected has become available due to a review of work practices, which concluded that the Regiment was closer to the Royal Armoured Corps, which is already admitting women into their training ranks, in terms of risks.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: “The RAF is committed to providing equal opportunity to all, so it’s fantastic to be able to open recruitment to the RAF Regiment to women ahead of schedule. We want the best and most talented individuals to join the Air Force, regardless of their gender, race, or background. A diverse force is a more effective force, and we need the best people to deliver the important work we do, be it defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria, or protecting Britain’s skies.”

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