Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has called in Parliament that the Red Arrows should be scrapped, and the £8.8 million spent on them should be used instead on soldier equipment.
“Personally, I think it is money that could be put to better use,” he said.
Edwards called for the change after retrieving data from the Royal Air Force, which stated that in 2009-10 they spent £4.6m on pilots and technicians, £2.1m on aviation fuel, £2.6m on maintenance and £400,000 just on dye.
“The question that Tory and Lib Dem MPs must ask themselves is: do they want money spent on a display team that offers no operational use, or do they want to provide the right equipment for soldiers under attack on the front line in what the Deputy Prime Minister himself characterises as an ‘illegal war’?” Edwards asked.
“If and when we manage to get through the recession the use of Red Arrows could naturally be re-examined. However, it would be naive when so many other public services are being cut, and the Welsh budget itself suffering around a £160m hit, that they are excluded from the debate.”
The Red Arrows, based in Scampton, near Lincoln, formed in 1965 and have since done over 4,000 displays in 53 countries. Many of the current pilots and support staff are also soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afgahnistan. Each pilot flies with the Red Arrows for three years after extensive training.
— Later update: The RAF has responded to the MP’s claims.
A spokesperson for the RAF said: “There will always be specualtion about the display team. The Red Arrows are of great value to the Armed Forces and British industry.”