The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. The RAF has taken a significant role in British military history, playing a large part in the Second World War as well as in more recent conflicts.

As of January 2012 the Royal Air Force is the largest air force in the world. Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and the British Army's Army Air Corps also deliver air power which is integrated into the maritime, littoral and land environments.

The RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), which are to "provide the capabilities needed: to ensure the security and defence of the British Empire; to support the Government’s foreign policy objectives particularly in promoting international peace and security."

The RAF's mission statement is "... [to provide] An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the British Defence Mission." The mission statement is supported by the RAF's definition of air power, which guides its strategy. Air power is defined as: "The ability to project power from the air and space to influence the behaviour of people or the course of events."

History[edit | edit source]

Structure[edit | edit source]

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Aircraft[edit | edit source]

Fighters and attack aircraft[edit | edit source]

Bombers[edit | edit source]

Airborne early warning aircraft[edit | edit source]

Reconnaissance[edit | edit source]

Helicopters[edit | edit source]

Transport and air-to-air refueling aircraft[edit | edit source]

Search and rescue aircraft[edit | edit source]

Training aircraft[edit | edit source]

Symbols, flags, emblems and uniform[edit | edit source]

Ceremonial functions and display[edit | edit source]

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