Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier says the RAF is ready to defend UK and NATO airspace from increasing pressure by Russia.

In an interview with Forces News, he said:

“When Russian aircraft test our air defences… we’re there and ready to respond. It is our principle mission. It’s what we train for.”

“It is undoubtedly the case that the Russians have increased the pressure on us over the last few years both here in the UK and with our NATO allies.”

The RAF Chief’s comments follow recent warnings from Defence Secretary Gavin Williams that Russia could cause, “thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths in an attack on Britain’s energy supply.”

British and Alliance aircrafts have come into close proximity with Russia in a number of recent incidents.

In January, RAF jets scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers after they entered British sovereign airspace.

Sir Stephen Hiller has been holding a RAF Board meeting at RAF Northolt to discuss issues such as sustained campaigns like Operation Shader.

When asked how long the RAF plans to continue their bombing campaign in Syria, he said:

“For as long as it’s necessary to get the job done.”

Operation Shader is now in its fourth year.

“Daesch has lost the vast majority of territory that it once owned… What we need to do is keep up the pressure until, ultimately, they are defeated.”

Commenting on recruitment, the RAF Head told Forces News:

“This year the RAF will achieve… about 93-94% of our target.”

He said that 20% of recruits will be women and the proportion of ethnic minorities coming into the RAF has more than doubled over recent years.

High on the agenda are also preparations for the RAF centenary on 1 April, where many aircraft will be commemorated.

The Air Chief Marshal told us that the Tornado is closest to his heart.

“My first frontline aircraft is the Tornado. I continue to fly the Tornado.”

The Tornado will retire in March 2019.

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