An unnamed Group Captain who was the head of recruitment for the Royal Air Force has resigned over concerns that the RAF could be weakened by trying to meet unfeasible diversity targets. The Group Captain,
a woman, deemed it to be unlawful for the RAF to prioritise women and minority ethnic groups, and refused to follow recruitment practices that would prioritise such candidates.

Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston was quoted in the national press as saying that there “was absolutely no drop in operational standards, no drop in any standards. There was no discrimination against any group.” However, a spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence subsequently admitted that some mistakes were made following a recruitment drive that had prioritised women and minority ethnic groups.

In a related story it has been reported that the RAF is also struggling to deliver training to the pilots that it has managed to recruit. Analysts believe the problems in the training pipeline can be traced as far back as 2011, when the air force axed over 30% of trainee pilots and froze recruitment after a £300m defence spending cut.

The war in Ukraine has added impetus to implementing some of the recommendations mentioned in the Integrated Review which was published in the spring of 2021, but there doesn’t seem to have been any real improvement to the Military Flying Training System, despite the British government announcing that spending on defence would increase to 2.5% of GDP by 2030. This is in response to the increased belligerence of Russia and its allies, and also to tensions in the South China Sea and the on-going friction between Taiwan and China.