'FOX VOWS TO RETAIN RAF AS SEPARATE SERVICE'

By David Hughes

Press Association – 13 September 2010

Defence Secretary Liam Fox gave MPs an 'absolute assurance' that the Royal Air Force (RAF) would continue to exist as a separate service.

The future of the RAF has been questioned, with some commentators predicting it could be merged with the Army or Royal Navy as part of a root and branch review of defence priorities and spending. But in the Commons Dr Fox gave a commitment to the future of the service after being asked to rule out a merger, which was condemned by one Tory MP as a 'strategically illiterate' proposal.

The issue was raised at defence question time by Tory  Julian Lewis, who was a member of Dr Fox's frontbench team in Opposition. Dr Lewis said the RAF performed 'highly specialised tasks' and urged Dr Fox to give a commitment to its future before the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) was concluded.

The Tory backbencher pointed out that it was

'the week in which we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the climax of the Battle of Britain',

and asked the Defence Secretary to confirm

'that he will give no time at all to the strategically illiterate suggestion that the RAF should be abolished and absorbed into the other two services'.

Dr Fox told him:

'It would be wrong of me in general to pre-empt the SDSR, but I can give you my absolute assurance that the Royal Air Force will continue'.