What's The Future Like For The RAF Red Arrows

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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Thu Dec 03, 2020 4:00 pm

EdA PC-21 outside

On 2 December 2020, the first PC-21 for the Ejército del Aire (EdA, Spanish Air Force) was noted outside for the first engine runs. The aircraft, serial E.27-01/...

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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Thu Dec 10, 2020 9:18 pm

Looks like the end of Bialo-Czerwone Iskry is around the corner.
Polish Air Force withdraws TS-11 Iskra

On 9 december 2020, the Sily Powietrzne RP (Polish Air Force) held a ceremony at 41.Baza Deblin to say goodbye to the TS-11 Iskra and hand o...

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Post by Adam » Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:33 am

Yesterday's ceremony was entirely symbolic - the TS-11 Iskra hasn't actually been used in the training role for over a year, and neither is it being totally retired.

Seven jets will be retained for Biało-Czerwone Iskry, where they will continue to serve for two more years. Those seven jets were put through $4m worth of upgrades earlier this year to help make that possible. This will enable them to keep on flying as a six-ship team, with one spare, which is how they've operated for the past few seasons (not a four-ship, as the article says they've been doing).
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Wed Mar 24, 2021 5:21 pm

The RAF will retire its entire fleet of 76 Hawk T1 trainers but the Red Arrows are saved by sponsorship deals
https://theaviationgeekclub.com/the-raf ... hip-deals/
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Post by RyanS » Wed Mar 24, 2021 7:26 pm

Wow, pretty shocking to hear that the Red Arrows would have been cut if not for sponsorship deals worth "under a million pounds". That's not even all that much!

Enjoy jet teams while they last, I guess.
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Post by Adam » Wed Mar 24, 2021 8:13 pm

RyanS wrote: Wed Mar 24, 2021 7:26 pm Wow, pretty shocking to hear that the Red Arrows would have been cut if not for sponsorship deals worth "under a million pounds". That's not even all that much!

Enjoy jet teams while they last, I guess.
Yes, it's a strange sum which doesn't really seem to add up because, as you say, it's not actually that much money. According to an FOI request, the Red Arrows' annual budget, including fuel, was $6.1m in 2010, but that seems impossibly low when a Hawk costs £4k per flight hour. That's £40k for a 9-ship practice, or £600,000 for a five day training week. Their true annual cost must surely be in the tens of millions, if not more.

Sadly, even though the team's funding has been increased in recent years, running costs are rising faster than funding can. Annual fuel costs alone have apparently tripled over the last decade. This will only worsen as the Hawk T.1s get older, and eventually need replacing. I saw elsewhere a similar quote from an unnamed official saying the team will only be able to continue beyond the next few years if they can find new income streams (beyond the "under £1m" already sourced, presumably). Civilian sponsorship of a military aerobatic just seems plain wrong to me, but if that's what they need to survive, hopefully they can find a way to make it work.

Additionally, the indications so far are that the overall number of people serving in the UK military will be cut back by reducing recruitment. This is arguably the key role of the Red Arrows, and if recruitment is to be scaled back, it could make airshow participation of any kind largely redundent in the eyes of the RAF or MOD. Yet another reason why I'm expecting we'll no longer have a big jet aerobatic team five or ten years from now.

Thinking in a more abstract way, the government are obviously quite keen on having a big aerobatic team to fly the flag on international tours, as we've seen many times in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2019. Long term, I wonder if we could see a UK "national aerobatic team" to replace the Red Arrows being set up outside of the air force, perhaps operating as a kind of public-private partnership and operating a future low-cost, British aircraft like the Aeralis Jet, if it ever gets of the ground.
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Post by Nick » Thu Apr 01, 2021 4:06 am

Adam wrote: Wed Mar 24, 2021 8:13 pm
RyanS wrote: Wed Mar 24, 2021 7:26 pm Wow, pretty shocking to hear that the Red Arrows would have been cut if not for sponsorship deals worth "under a million pounds". That's not even all that much!

Enjoy jet teams while they last, I guess.
Yes, it's a strange sum which doesn't really seem to add up because, as you say, it's not actually that much money. According to an FOI request, the Red Arrows' annual budget, including fuel, was $6.1m in 2010, but that seems impossibly low when a Hawk costs £4k per flight hour. That's £40k for a 9-ship practice, or £600,000 for a five day training week. Their true annual cost must surely be in the tens of millions, if not more.

Sadly, even though the team's funding has been increased in recent years, running costs are rising faster than funding can. Annual fuel costs alone have apparently tripled over the last decade. This will only worsen as the Hawk T.1s get older, and eventually need replacing. I saw elsewhere a similar quote from an unnamed official saying the team will only be able to continue beyond the next few years if they can find new income streams (beyond the "under £1m" already sourced, presumably). Civilian sponsorship of a military aerobatic just seems plain wrong to me, but if that's what they need to survive, hopefully they can find a way to make it work.

Additionally, the indications so far are that the overall number of people serving in the UK military will be cut back by reducing recruitment. This is arguably the key role of the Red Arrows, and if recruitment is to be scaled back, it could make airshow participation of any kind largely redundent in the eyes of the RAF or MOD. Yet another reason why I'm expecting we'll no longer have a big jet aerobatic team five or ten years from now.

Thinking in a more abstract way, the government are obviously quite keen on having a big aerobatic team to fly the flag on international tours, as we've seen many times in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2019. Long term, I wonder if we could see a UK "national aerobatic team" to replace the Red Arrows being set up outside of the air force, perhaps operating as a kind of public-private partnership and operating a future low-cost, British aircraft like the Aeralis Jet, if it ever gets of the ground.
Respectively, it's been very excellent to see the Red Arrows preform at MCAS Miramar, recalling back to 2019 when the team decided to commit themselves in coming back to North America for another tour after 11 years, basically during the pre-covid era, they were a fascinating team to witness, their aerobatic maneuvers at-a-first-glance were very unique, more of "outside the box" compared to the U.S jet teams (fairly obvious every jet team differs in reputation and popularity). Also what I caught wind of, is when you mentioned team's funding has been increasing in recent years, running costs are rising faster than funding can. That must be downfall of the jet team as well. Especially with costs now-a-days. I know there's probably more to it.
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Fri Apr 02, 2021 5:03 am

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Post by Adam » Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:35 pm

Thread drift, but some articles in the Spanish press from earlier this year caught my attention today - relevent as we discussed the future of Patrulla Aguila earlier in this thread. Despite reports to the contrary last year, the EdA has addressed the rumours that the PC-21 will replace Aguila's C-101s and said that this is not the case - or, at least, not yet. The primary reason is the desire to operate a Spanish-built aircraft whenever possible.

The reports say that the current plan is for the team to continue using the C-101 until they can eak no more life out of them. The team's future will be re-evaluated in summer 2022, when the C-101 is projected to reach the end of its useful life. At this point, options will include:
  • Somehow extending the life of the C-101, perhaps until the new Airbus jet trainer is in service. This could include trawling their non-Aguila C-101 fleet for airframes that still have a little life left in them.
  • Switching to the PC-21 because it is deemed there is no alternative.
  • Disbanding the team altogether. This has, apparently, been confirmed as an option by defence sources, on the grounds that a team of PC-21s would have much less impact than a team of jets (I am not sure I necessarily agree!)
This problem will affect much more than Patrulla Aguila, as the C-101 is slated to remain in service in limited training roles until around 2027, according to announcements made when the PC-21 order was announced in 2019.

Here's one source, of several: https://www.larazon.es/espana/20210109/ ... ouu3i.html
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Post by Adam » Wed May 19, 2021 5:47 pm

Seeing as this has become an interesting "future of all jet aerobatic teams" thread, I thought I'd share this here.
www.rp.pl%2FWojsko%2F304189963-Samoloty ... ch&pto=aue

This article confirms the sad news that 2021 will be the final year for Bialo-Czerwone Iskry and they will perform at just four airshows. I'm rather sad that means I'll probably never get to see them. It's hoped that the last TS-11s will also undertake a "farewell flight" next August to mark the type's final retirement.
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