There is no doubt that the Parachute Regiment is a priceless asset, comprising a body of men with an outstanding esprit de corps, and a strong sense of purpose, inculcated by the unifying bond of P Company. But, we have to be perhaps realistic about the reality of parachuting today and whether it is remotely feasible at large levels. On a purely technical side, one only has to look at the numbers of aircraft available now, and in the future to the RAF to realise that there will far fewer airframes able to support jumping in future. With a planned A400M buy of only some 22 aircraft, once training and servicing is taken out of the equation, then it’s likely that it would take nearly half the A400M fleet lifting at once to deliver a single Parachute battalion to its objective. When one considers that in any military operation, one of the most vital and in demand assets are the tactical transport fleet, then it’s clear that there are unlikely to be this many airframes available. At a most basic level, the UK is rapidly running out of the ability to airdrop more than a couple of hundred paratroopers at any one time, regardless of whether it has the infantry numbers to do so. Reductions to a company sized group is perhaps a sensible realism measure that accepts that ultimately there are only going to be a relatively small number of aircraft available for future operations.
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