A report in British media is claiming that the Royal Air Force, which saved the country from Nazi invasion in 1940, is not ready for full-on combat should another war break out in Europe.
The Daily Mirror reports that one-third of British RAF planes were either in storage or in maintenance as the air service celebrated its 100th year in existence.
Quoting the Defense Ministry, the news site said that aircraft have been mothballed and taken out of front-line service for periods of time because they need repairs and upgrades.
Figures uncovered by freedom of information requests found that 142 of the RAF’s 434 planes are unavailable for combat duty.
That includes Typhoon fighters, which can attain speeds of up to 1,500 mph and “are the last line of the UK’s air defense against Russian forces” that have also flown “daring bombing missions attacking Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.”
The report noted that British military officials said 55 of the 156 Typhoons comprise the RAF’s “sustainment fleet,” and are not part of the “forward fleet” used for combat ops.
Additionally, other plans and helicopters in the so-called forward fleet could be “short-term unserviceable aircraft.”
The readiness figures are said to be an embarrassment to the RAF which celebrated its centennial last year.
Critics say the UK’s cuts in military spending have led to a hollowing out of some forces including the RAF.
Shadow Defense Secretary Nia Griffith noted: “Conservative cuts have had a crippling effect on this country’s defences and our ability to respond to the range of threats that the UK faces.
“In 2017 it was the year of the Navy, but so many of our frigates and destroyers are tied up for months on end,” Griffith added.
“In 2018, when we were all so proud to mark the centenary of the RAF, it is very surprising that so much equipment is unavailable,” she said.
“It is time for Conservative Ministers to be honest about their legacy of eight years of austerity in defense. Labour is committed to rebuilding this country’s defences and giving our armed forces the resources that they need.”
Lord Ming Campbell, the defense spokesman for Liberal Democrats, noted further: “It is self-evident that aircraft have to be withdrawn from the frontline in order for repairs and routine servicing to be carried out.
“But the strength of the Royal Air Force depends not just on the quality of the pilots and their aircraft but availability to meet any threat or to take part in NATO operations,” he said. “These figures seem to go beyond what is necessary for repair or service.”
President Donald Trump has criticized NATO members for not spending their agreed-upon 2 percent of GDP on their militaries, even as the U.S. ramps up defense spending — in large part to meet its NATO commitment and better prepare the alliance for future conflict.
As for the RAF, it is phasing out its Tornado aircraft with Eurofighter Typhoons and F-35Bs, the latter of which will be stationed aboard Britain’s new aircraft carriers.