Red Arrows

Could Red Arrows' Smoke Trails Be 'Going Green' To Combat Climate Change?

The Red Arrows are considering 'going green' with their red, white and blue vapour trails as part of a move to be more eco-friendly, it is understood.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has asked private industry to help make the display aircraft's smoke trails less polluting, according to a report in The Sun.

A source told the paper: "As global ambassadors for Britain and the RAF, the Red Arrows look for excellence in all they do, for them to consider use environmentally friendly smoke dye, shows they are continuing to lead the field.

"Always red, white and blue, the addition of green credentials is a great thing."

The MOD has called for an "environmentally friendly coloured smoke dye and a diesel solvent alternative for aerobatic displays", the report said.

The red and blue vapour trails produced by the famous Hawk Red Arrows jets are created by injecting a mix of 75% diesel and 25% dye into the hot exhaust of the aircraft's engine, the MOD revealed in a 2019 Freedom of Information request.

During the financial year of 2017-2018, the RAF aerobatic display team used some 643,000 litres of diesel and 36,000 litres of dye, the response also stated.

Watch: Going green? Red Arrows recently flew with the RAF's submarine hunter P-8A Poseidon aircraft. 

The white vapour seen during the displays is just produced by diesel.

The news comes after a damming report by the UN found it is "unequivocal" that human activity has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land – with widespread and rapid changes across the world.

It warned many of the changes are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years, with the world warming at a rate unprecedented in at least 2,000 years.

Continued warming will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions and that humans are very likely the main driver behind rising sea levels, the report continued. 

The Royal Air Force is aiming to be net-zero by 2040, while the UK overall is aiming to be net-zero by 2050.

Defence accounts for half of all the UK Government's carbon emissions.

In March, an MOD report into climate change warned new issues brought forward by a warming world means the Armed Forces "need to adapt".

Penguin in South Georgia
A new UN report has warned humans are very likely the main driver behind rising sea levels (Picture: Royal Navy).

The document's author and MOD's lead on climate change and sustainability, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, said: "The climate is changing, the climate is making it more difficult to operate, the climate is affecting our bases, it's affecting our equipment and so on, so we need to adapt. 

"The scientists will say we've already locked in a more violent storm-led world, a wetter world, a warmer world in 2030, there's nothing we can do about that.

"Some of the scientists say we've hit already, nine of the 15 tipping points that will push the world into an inexorable move to a much, much more difficult world to live in."

The report published by Lt Gen Nugee also outlined plans to make the Armed Forces more green, including a three-stage plan to guide defence through to 2050.

In June, the British Army announced it was planning to plant up to two million trees on its sites across the country in its fight against climate change, while some of its vehicles are also trialling using hybrid engines

The Royal Navy's 'greenest' ship - HMS Tamar - was declared ready for operations last summer

The Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel has catalytic converters which can reduces its nitrogen-based emissions by up to 90%

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