The leader of the Red Arrows has called on the RAF to replace the crack aerobatic team’s ageing jets as they celebrate their 50th display season.
Squadron leader Jim Turner, also known as Red One, is in his final year as Team Leader, and believes a new generation of aircraft “are a luxury the UK can afford.”
The team’s current Hawk T1 jets are based at RAF Scampton but go out of service in 2018.
Despite recent criticism following the death of two Red Arrows pilots in 2011, Sdn Ldr Turner hopes the RAF will replace the 30-year-old planes with a new version of the Hawk.
Sdn Ldr Turner said: “I would certainly like to see a new aeroplane come in, the Red Arrows have been displaying for 50 years and I would like to see them go on for another 20 or 30 years.”
“The Hawks we have got at the moment will last until 2018, maybe a couple of years beyond that, but I would love to see the legacy continue.”
“It is a testament to the quality of the engineering from BAE Systems, these aeroplanes are 34-years-old and they have been going along time.
“The quality of the RAF engineering has kept them in the air and safe, and they will go for a few years yet, but I would like see at least a debate on whether or not we get a new aeroplane.”
Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, from Rutland, was killed when his Red Arrows jet crashed performing at an air show near Bournemouth Airport in Dorset on 20th August 2011.
Earlier this year a coroner in Lincoln criticised the RAF and the manufacturers of the team’s ejection seats after another Red Arrows pilot fell more than 200 feet to his death three months later when his seat accidentally fired as he prepared for take-off.
The father of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, from Coventry, described his son’s death as “pointless and avoidable.”
The Red Arrows first performed in May 1965 and they have since performed for millions around the world. They originally flew Gnat jets, but switched to Hawks in 1980.
Sdn Ldr Turner added:”It would be good to have a debate rather than to just to get to the point where the aircraft run out of life and there is no chance of the team continuing in some form.”
“It is a very significant financial investment that would be need to be taken but I think the public love the Red Arrows, we stand for excellence for the Royal Air Force and for the UK as a whole.”
“Personally I think it is an expensive luxury that the UK can afford.”
“I would just love to see a new aeroplane for the team to keep them going another 30 years.”
“We entertain millions of people every year and I think people love the Red Arrows.”