UK RAF opens its close combat unit to women

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London, Sep 1 (IANS) Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) on Friday started accepting applications from women to join the RAF Regiment — its ground-fighting force, the media reported.

The Royal Air Force has become the first branch of the British military to open up every role to men and women. The move follows a decision last year to lift the ban on women serving in close combat roles, reports the BBC.

The main role of the 2,000-strong RAF Regiment is to patrol and protect RAF bases and airfields.

With women making up just 10 per cent of the air force as a whole, there is unlikely to be a flood of applications, according to a defence official.

But, he adds, it is a significant moment because it means women can now apply for any RAF role, from fighter pilot to ground support.

However, it will be another year before women can apply to enter army infantry units and the Royal Marines, where the physical demands can be tougher, the BBC reported.

The ban on women serving in close combat units was lifted by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2016.

In July, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the RAF Regiment would be open to women from September — ahead of its original 2018 schedule.

–IANS

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