A senior British Army officer has highlighted his concerns that Britain lacks the airborne logistical capability to support the Parachute Regiment’s rapid reaction role. Speaking to the Sunday Express newspaper Colonel Mike Shervington said that cuts in recent years had effectively mothballed the regiment who were tasked with providing 1200 fully equipped paratroopers coupled with vehicles and equipment to a crisis zone within 48 hours. He also added that the situation has become so dire that many paratroopers haven’t yet finished their training with live jumps from a transport aircraft because the aircraft aren’t available.
However an MoD spokesperson rebuffed Colonel Shervington’s claims stating;
The [parachute regiment] remains constantly at very high readiness to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct the full range of military missions; either unilaterally or as part of a multinational partnership with our close Allies.
So just where are the aircraft that Colonel Shervington is referring to?
The RAF currently has 24 Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules C.4/C.5 aircraft on strength as well as 8 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft. These are being supported by an increasing number of Airbus A400M ATLAS aircraft with 22 currently on order but the introduction of the ATLAS will see a reduced number of Hercules. Shervington’s concerns centre around the sheer number of operations this small transport fleet is committed to which in his opinion has left the RAF’s ability to meet its commitments to the Paras questionable at best.