February 21, 2011: Britain is planning massive cuts in its armed forces, and while exact numbers are still being debated, the Royal Air Force (RAF) has gone ahead and dismissed 25 percent of 400 pilot officers currently in training. This means 20 fighter, 30 helicopter and 50 transport student pilots halt their training and become civilians again. Some of the pilot trainees are only weeks away from completing their training. Over a hundred million dollars has already been spent on the training of those dismissed, and the former officers can probably use that training to quickly complete a civilian flying course, so they can get jobs as civilian pilots.
Currently, the RAF has 210 fighter pilots, 220 helicopter pilots and 210 transport pilots. The RAF has been ordered to cut its 38,000 personnel strength 13 percent over the next four years. Over a hundred aircraft and helicopters will also be withdrawn from service (either junked or put in storage.)
The RAF is trying to make cuts in areas that are Cold War related (like interceptor aircraft, and support for that force). For decades, the RAF prepared to deal with a much larger number of Russian aircraft. But that threat disappeared (along with most of the Russian Air Force) in the early 1990s.
Many RAF commanders believe the current round of cuts is too deep, but the government has some serious spending and debt problems that have moved to the front of the queue.