Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Organisation and current role
The RAF Regiment's 2800 members are organised into ten squadrons of 100–150 personnel each, roughly equivalent to a company in the army. There are five ground-based air defence squadrons, one of which is an auxiliary squadron (i.e. manned by part-time reservists). These are responsible for defending airfields against air attack and are equipped with Rapier vehicle-portable surface-to-air missiles. The remainder of the regiment are six Field squadrons, responsible for defending against ground attack and as such are trained and equipped in a similar manner to British Army infantry. However, because of their role, they are particularly well outfitted with specialist surveillance and night vision equipment. All personnel are male in line with the British Government policy that women cannot serve in front line combat units. There are approximately 2000 regular airmen (i.e. enlisted men), 300 regular officers and 500 reservists.
Members of the Regiment are known within the RAF as 'Rock Apes' or 'Rocks'. No. 63 Squadron of the RAF Regiment, one of the Field Squadrons, is also known as the Queen's Colour Squadron. This unit represents the RAF at various ceremonial occasions (including mounting the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace), and is also responsible for guarding the Queen's Colour of the Royal Air Force. No 27 Squadron is a specialist unit that forms half of the Joint NBC Regiment together with 1st Royal Tank Regiment.
On 12th July 2004, it was announced by Geoff Hoon that the RAF Regiment will relinquish the Rapier to the Royal Artillery, with five squadrons being disbanded. However, as part of the same re-organisation, it was announced that the RAF Regiment would make up part of the new Ranger unit, designed to support the Special Forces.
Whilst the RAF had operated units equipped with armoured cars in the 1920s and 1930s, the RAF Regiment only came into existence on 1 February 1942. From the start it had both field squadrons and light anti-aircraft squadrons, the latter originally armed with Hispano and Bofors guns. Its role was originally purely defensive, but later in the war it took on offensive tasks such as capturing enemy airfields. Several parachute squadrons were formed to assist in these, and one current squadron, No 2, retains this capability. The regiment has a museum at RAF Honington near Bury St Edmunds.
During World War Two the RAF Regiment grew to a force of 66,000 men in 280 Squadrons of 185 men each (each squadron included five officers). Each squadron consisted of a Headquarters Flight, three Rifle Flights, an Air-Defence Flight, and an Armoured-Car Flight. The flights were grouped together into Wings as needed. It also operated six Armoured Car Squadrons to provide an area response capability to several RAF Bases.
Formerly the RAF's firefighters were also members of the RAF Regiment, although they are now independent of it.
Current RAF Regiment units
- Field Squadrons
- 1 Squadron
- 2 Squadron (Parachute)
- 3 Squadron
- 34 Squadron
- 58 Squadron
- 63 Squadron (Queen's Colour Squadron)
- Low Level Air Defence Squadrons
- 15 Squadron
- 16 Squadron
- 26 Squadron
- 37 Squadron
- NBC Squadrons
- 27 Squadron (Joint NBC Regiment)
- Force Protection
- No 1 RAF STO HQ
- No 2 RAF STO HQ
- No 3 RAF STO HQ
- No 4 RAF STO HQ
- Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment Squadrons
- 2503 Squadron (Ground Defence)
- 2620 Squadron (Ground Defence)
- 2622 Squadron (Ground Defence)
- 2623 Squadron (Training)
- 2625 Squadron (Ground Defence)
- Royal Auxiliary Air Force
- Airfield Defence Guards
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