UK DEFENCE AND aerospace companies have committed to provide £2.5 million ($4 million) to support the Royal Air Force Red Arrows display team's winter tour to South Africa and Malaysia. This is the first time that industry has provided financial support for a Red Arrows tour.

So far, ten companies - British Aerospace, Chobham, GEC, GKN, Messier Dowty, Rolls-Royce, Short Brothers, Smiths Industries, Vickers Defence Systems and Vosper Thorneycroft - have given their support to the tour, says Charles Masefield, head of the UK's Defence Sales Export Organisation (DESO.

Masefield says that the tour idea emerged from requests from both South Africa and Malaysia to have the Red Arrows attend respectively the 75th anniversary of the South African Air Force and the Lankawi defence show.

"The RAF could do it, provided that DESO could raise the funding from the UK defence industry," he says. The tour, will also take in Brunei, Indonesia, Oman, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.

(See News Analysis, P26)

Source: Flight International