MP calls for debate on future of Red Arrows after BAE blow
CALLS TO debate the Red Arrows’ future amid long-term concerns about the display team have been backed by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom.
Former Labour Minister Diana Johnson pressed the Government to offer assurances about the Lincolnshire-based Royal Air Force aerobatic team after BAE Systems announced plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs.
The Opposition previously called for the Government to consider bringing forward orders, including replacing the Red Arrows’ fleet of Hawk aircraft, in a bid to provide additional work for BAE.
Ms Leadsom said the team does a “brilliant job” and she “would absolutely support” Ms Johnson in seeking a parliamentary debate, suggesting this could emerge via the Backbench Business Committee.
Speaking in the Commons, Ms Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) told Ms Leadsom: “Could we please have a debate on the future of the Red Arrows?
“For decades, the Red Arrows display team has showcased the best of British aeronautical manufacturing around the world. The Hawk Trainers used by the Red Arrows and built at Brough, just outside Hull, have been due to go out of service in 2020 as the (then) Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2014 and as the (former) lead pilot, Squadron leader Jim Turner, said that the jets would need to be replaced in 2018.
“The current Defence Secretary (Sir Michael Fallon) said in 2016 that we will eventually have to replace them and start to think about that in the next year or two.
“So I think this is timely, in light of the announcement from BAE Systems this week, that we have this discussion about the future of the Red Arrows.”
Ms Leadsom replied: “I think, like many members, we’d all pay tribute to the excellent displays put on by the Red Arrows – not least of which at the British Grand Prix in my constituency at Silverstone Circuit where they fly overhead every year, and I can actually see them from my garden.
“I think it’s a fantastic sight and they do a brilliant job, so I would absolutely support the honourable lady and I’m sure she could speak to (Backbench Business Committee chairman Ian Mearns).
“I’m sure they’d be plenty of interest in such a debate.”
The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by RAF commands.
The badge of the Red Arrows shows the aircraft in their trademark diamond nine formation, with the motto Éclat, meaning “brilliance”.
DIANA JOHNSON: Called for a parliamentary debate on the future of the Red Arrows.