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Red Arrows bid to turn red, white and blue smoke trails green

By Laura Parnaby, PA

The Red Arrows’ smoke trails could go green in an effort to cut their environmental impact, official documents have shown.

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), a trading arm of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has appealed to potential future suppliers for environmentally-friendly smoke dye and diesel solvent alternatives.

The move is part of the RAF’s wider drive to become more environmentally conscious, as directed by Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, who has said he wants the RAF to be “the first net-zero air force by 2040”.

An RAF source said: “As global ambassadors for Britain and the RAF, the Red Arrows look for excellence in all they do. For them to consider using environmentally-friendly smoke dye shows they are continuing to lead the field.

“Always red, white and blue, the addition of green credentials is a great thing.”

Dye mixed with a solvent, which is stored on a pod attached to the aircraft, is currently injected into the hot exhaust of the jet engine whilst in flight to produce the display team’s famous red, white and blue smoke trails.

The MoD said in response to a freedom of information request in 2019 that the Red Arrows’ trails comprise 75% diesel and 25% dye, and the planes used 643,000 litres of diesel and 63,000 litres of dye over the previous year.

The DE&S request for green suppliers notes the project is in “an early concept phase” and welcomes responses which “articulate what, if any, environmentally-friendly solutions are currently under development or available in the market”.

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