Number of personnel in the Royal Air Force in the UK 2012-2019, by gender

In 2019 there were 28.11 thousand men serving in the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, and 4.76 thousand women. Compared with 2012 there were 6.37 thousand fewer men and 760 fewer women serving in the RAF.

You and whose army?
The reduction in staff witnessed by the RAF has been seen across all branches of the military and is the result of a conscious decision by the UK government to reduce the number of personnel in the Armed Forces. In the Army there were 23.1 thousand fewer personnel in 2012 than there were in 2018, with the Royal Navy losing 2.1 thousand personnel in the same time period.

Amount spent on defense falls to 1.9 percent
As well as cuts to personnel numbers there have also been cuts to do the amount spent on defense by the UK government. As a share of Gross domestic product, Britain spends 1.9 percent on defense, slightly under the two percent target set by NATO. Just after the end of the Cold War, the UK spent 3.5 percent of it’s GDP on the military, but this fell rapidly to 2.3 percent by 1997/98.

Number of personnel employed in the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom (UK) from 2012 to 2019, by gender

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Release date

June 2019


United Kingdom

Survey time period

April 1, 2019

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