I was privileged to be able to attend one of the commemorative events marking the 75th anniversary of the “Hardest Day”; the day of greatest losses on both sides during the Battle of Britain. There will, of course, be more events as we lead up to Battle of Britain day on 15th September which will provide additional opportunity for us to remember and thank all those people who played their part during that remarkable period of our history.
The history of the Battle of Britain is interwoven with the history of the Spitfire and the story of this aircraft and the people involved in its development, production and deployment, many of whom are members of our Society, is brilliantly portrayed in Paul Beaver’s latest offering “Spitfire People” -providing insight into the courage and determination of that generation.
As we remember the events of 75 years ago, it is appropriate that the Society should be active in putting forward the views of our profession in respect of today’s defence concerns and to this end the Society has generated a paper for contribution to the debate surrounding the 2015 UK Strategic Defence Review (SDSR). It argues that to deal with new, changing international developments in a cost-effective way, a genuinely strategic approach to defence provision is required by the UK Government. The Society assesses the current international landscape and sets out the broad capabilities, and the more detailed aerospace capabilities, required to deal more effectively and efficiently with these new threats. The Paper makes the case for a force construct that meets a series of generic requirements, that in turn will improve the flexibility of the UK to adapt to the evolution of global security challenges; argues for further reform of procurement processes to improve the efficiency and affordability of defence acquisition; makes the case for continuing long-term Government-industry partnerships to capture and exploit the full suite of economic, security and social gains; and sets out the benefits of maintaining regional and global alliances. We look forward to ongoing engagement with government as SDSR progresses.
Equally the Society concerns itself with the challenges facing the environment and has recently published its “Greener by Design” group Annual Report 2014/2015. The environmental challenge of reducing carbon emissions remains one of the most important issues facing the world today and the aviation aspects of this challenge will further be addressed in October when “Greener by Design” hosts its annual seminar – “Contrail- cirrus, other non CO2 effects and Smart Flying”.
Finally, on behalf of the Society, I wish to offer sincere condolences to the families and friends of all those who lost their lives in the terrible air crash at Shoreham on 22nd August, as well as our best wishes for a speedy recovery to those who are injured. There will be lessons that must be learned from this tragedy and the Society stands ready to support the investigation and formulation of subsequent recommendations.
Martin Broadhurst OBE MA CDir FIOD FRAeS