The Royal Air Force celebrates 100 years of service

On April 1st 2018, the Royal Air Force celebrates its 100th birthday.  To mark this historic occasion, the RAF will rightly reflect on its history and achievements; it is also a time to celebrate the achievements of today’s RAF and those serving who continue to add to the rich heritage and strong ethos of the world’s first independent Air Force.

Since its inception in 1918, the RAF has occupied the frontiers of human skill, endurance and technology, exploring the very limits before pushing them further.

At Thales in the UK, we are proud of our legacy of close cooperation with the RAF, inherited from our heritage of iconic British companies and forged by the demands made on the technological limits of the day by an entirely new form of power projection.

Victor Chavez, Chief Executive of Thales UK said:  

“Everyone at Thales wishes the Royal Air Force a happy 100th birthday - it is a magnificent milestone as you commemorate 100 years of service and sacrifice to our nation and celebrate the achievements of today’s Royal Air Force.

“We are proud of our long association with the world’s first independent air force and we look forward to offering our continued support in your second century. We are delighted to support the RAF100 campaign’s nationwide ambitions of Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire.


Thales’s heritage includes some of the most famous names in British technology like Marconi, Shorts, Thorn EMI, Vinten, Racal and Rediffusion.  Their inventiveness provided optical sights for the first reconnaissance flights over the trenches on the Western Front and the development of hydrostatic fuses for the bouncing bombs used on the Dambusters raid in 1943.

Thales now carries on that tradition as the RAF looks to the next 100 years that will place new demands on people and equipment.  To meet those demands, the RAF is undergoing a transformation which Thales is supporting.  For example, Chinook, Voyager and the A400M Atlas aircraft are equipped with Thales cockpits and under the Marshall Programme, we help provide air traffic management capability to support RAF operations at home and overseas.


Thales is also partnering the construction of the new High-G training facility at RAF Cranwell and will provide instructors and maintainers to prepare future generations of RAF fast jet pilots for the rigours of g-force.

However, our relationship with the RAF is also about people.  The RAF is at the forefront of a training revolution and we are designing, building and servicing a new generation of synthetic training services that will prepare aircrew and engineers for new challenges.  

Our instructors and engineers work alongside their uniformed colleagues at every stage of a young pilot’s progress, from basic flying tuition to advanced mission training in simulated environments.

Many of our people also sustain the RAF directly as part of the Whole Force, providing support services at air bases around the world in addition to serving in uniform as air force reservists.

We never forget that the RAF is also a family.  We are a proud sponsor of the RAF100 appeal and the Thales Charitable Trust has close links with RAF charities that support current and former Service personnel.

At Thales, we are inspired by the example set by the men and women of the Royal Air Force who show what can be achieved when technology and courage are applied in defending the skies of Britain and when air and space power is used to project Britain’s power and influence around the world.  Happy 100th Birthday!