This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross
Like all the air forces of all the belligerent nations, the Royal Air Force suffered heavy losses during the opening years of the War when air operations were at their peak, and by the summer of 2000 its strength stands at just over thirty operational fixed and rotary wing aircraft; main bases include Lyneham, which is home to the remnants of the RAF’s fleet of C130 transports, whilst the remaining air defence aircraft are based at Manston in Kent, the former civilian airport at Gatwick, and Boscombe Down, a Ministry of Defence Test and Evaluation Site converted to an operational base in late 1997. Most bases have additional non operational airframes which have been cannibalized for spare parts but could potentially be returned to an airworthy condition in the future. Whilst some supplies of aviation fuel are available, sorties are extremely rare, and are restricted to aircraft based in the south of the country – currently the Government does not have the resources to get the aviation fuel it is producing to bases in the North of England and Scotland.
The RAF’s mainstay is the British Aerospace Hawk; a two seater fast jet trainer, most Hawks were upgraded to the T1A standard earlier in the war, enabling them to carry two AIM9 Sidewinder air to air missiles on underwing pylons and a 30mm cannon in a centreline gun pod. In the summer of 2000 the remaining Hawks serve in an air defence role, intercepting unidentified aircraft encroaching into the skies over southern England (these instances are scarce, with the transgressors usually French reconnaissance aircraft which are escorted peacefully out of UK airspace; no Soviet aircraft have been encountered for over a year).
The RAF also operates a number of Shorts Tucanos and Scottish Aviation Bulldogs, two seat trainers that are used primarily for reconnaissance missions (with the observer making extensive use of the Mk1 Eyeball), with the information gleaned from these sorties fed back to the Joint Intelligence Group at Winchester. Several Tucanos have also been fitted with improvised underwing hard points, allowing them to also carry a limited amount of weaponry if required (primarily .50 calibre HMG’s).
In addition to the Hawks, Tucanos, and Bulldogs, a small number of other aircraft remain operational. These include a single Eurofighter, the RAF’s newest multirole combat aircraft, which had just begun its operational testing at the start of the war, and a handful of Tornados (both the GR1 ground attack variant and the F3 interceptor) and Phantoms, as well as two C130 Hercules transports. Additionally, a small number of Vigilant T1’s have also been pressed into service. Two seater motor gliders, the Vigilants were used by the RAF’s Volunteer Gliding Squadrons to train Air Cadets before the war. Extremely fuel efficient and capable of shutting down its engine and gliding, the Vigilant has proved to be an extremely effective reconnaissance platform.
Most RAF bases only retain the minimum of staff required to keep their surviving aircraft operational, with surplus personnel having been used to reinforce various Army units during 1998 and 1999. Whilst a number of personnel have also been assigned to Salvage teams coordinated by the Army, the RAF also operates several such teams itself, tasked with scavenging civilian airports and airfields for aviation specific items and one of the largest of these teams is based at Gatwick Airport, a civilian airport south of London. Elements of the RAF Regiment continue to provide an air defence capability, whilst the King’s Colour Squadron has been attached to the Army’s 32nd (Guards) Infantry Brigade, where, in addition to an air defence role, its Scorpion CVR(T)’s also provides a Light Armoured capability. Most airmen and women are armed with Sterling SMG’s or L1A1 SLR’s, although some personnel have been issued with the L98A1 Cadet General Purpose Rifle. The L85 is generally only found in the hands of RAF Regiment personnel, small numbers of whom have the newer A2 model.
Much of the RAF’s stock of high tech precision weaponry was expended earlier in the war; it retains some AIM9 Sidewinder surface to air missiles and 30mm Aden gun pods, as well as stocks of unguided high explosive bombs, which come in two types, the 505kg and a smaller 312kg version. These “dumb” bombs are supplemented by an extremely limited supply of “smart” munitions, including a small number of Paveway laser guided bombs. The RAF also retains approximately half a dozen WE177C’s, tactical nuclear bombs with a 200 kiloton yield intended to be used by the Tornado fleet.
A Hawk T1 jet armed with AIM9 sidewinder missiles somewhere over Southern England, June 2000