Why not fly holidaymakers while waiting for a war? Credit Masakatsu Ukon cc-by-sa-2.0.

A useful little example of the problem which plagues every military, everywhere and everywhen. Said military needs to have much more kit that in entirely necessary to run operations in peacetime. Because, you know, they do need to be able to fight wars. This means they have a few rifles in the back of the cupboard to replace those shot out of the hands of gallant Tommies. An extra ship or two tied up at the dock to replace any lost to enemy action. A grouping (in today’s European militaries, perhaps a groupuscule) of tanks to roll out in place of those brewed up.

And, possibly, rather more aircraft to fly peeps around in that are required purely for training purposes:

Three military jets – part of a fleet costing taxpayers an astonishing £10.5 billion – are being used to fly holidaymakers to sun-kissed resorts because the RAF has no use for them.

The aircraft are supposed to transport British troops to military bases around the world and refuel fighters and bombers in mid-air during combat sorties.

But a Mail on Sunday investigation can reveal that while the cash-strapped Ministry of Defence shells out tens of millions of pounds a year for the planes, holiday firms Thomas Cook and Jet2 have been using them to fly thousands of tourists to Majorca, Tenerife, New York and Florida.

So, MoD has enough passenger transport planes to move reasonable numbers of troops. Enough to perhaps gear up to a Gulf War (I or II) type of thing possibly. We’re not in such a Gulf War type of thing at present so there’s capacity going spare. What should we do with that spare capacity? Why not rent it out? Earn a crust towards that capital cost – which is substantial – while we preserve the opportunity to gear up if we need to?

And then the Mail complains about money wasting. When this is actually money saving on a large scale. Which does neatly illustrate that military problem. They’ve got to have the kit to be able to expand from peacetime operations. But then people complain about money wasting when they have it.

From memory, and don’t quote on this, the Americans tend to think of the entire commercial fleet as being on hand in wartime. Both the hulls themselves and the crews – vast numbers of the pilots at least being in the AF Reserve anyway.

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chap in chelsea
chap in chelsea

Tim, you are acting as if the Mail is a serious newspaper, rather than cat-box liner in which a frigate is a ‘battleship’ and any armoured vehicle with tracks is a ‘tank’. It is mostly about D-list celebrities getting their tits out, albeit with the nipples duly blanked out (for da sake of da children of course).


CinC the Page Three Girl is a time-honored tradition dating back to the invention of photography and the DM is just about the only remaining practitioner. I haven’t got much longer to go and what happens after that to the tits and bums show is no longer my concern, but for the meantime let’s enjoy it while it lasts.


Presumably, Thomas Cook and Jet2 are paying the military for this service, under contracts where they acknowledge that, if war should break out, the service will suddenly become unavailable. That beats putting the planes “in mothballs” and letting the pilots’ skills atrophy.

This fine arrangement compares to the US Postal Service activating mail trucks on Sundays to make deliveries for Amazon (a contract that Trump incorrectly calls a “sweetheart deal” because Amazon’s owner also owns a newspaper that attacks him daily).

Mohave Greenie
Mohave Greenie

The US indeed has the Civil Reserve Air Fleet. That way it has a number of transports on tap in time of war. The Department of Defense kicks some money back by preferentially using the CRAF participants’ businesses during peacetime. I do not know how this works with the MoD.


That seems like the opposite: arranging to commandeer private aircraft, rather than finding private uses for underused government aircraft.

Bloke in North Dorset

Quite a few ships were commandeered for the Falklands. The problem was that they weren’t ideal. I’m not advocating the Navy running cruise ships but these things have to be considered.

It’s not just equipment. During the Falklands campaign one of the Commando battalions was held back for a while to provide battlefield replacements.