Volunteers set to join 'top-gun' crews

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The Independent Online
Britain's crews of "top-gun" pilots and navigators could consist of part-timers for the first time, under plans by the Ministry of Defence to put reservists into front-line fighter aircraft.

Trials are to be carried out by the RAF using reservists to pilot Britain's Tornado F3 jets, it was announced last night by John Reid, the defence minister. The pilots and navigators will be recruited from existing trained F3 crews who are due to leave the service after taking retirement.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "They are highly experienced serving officers at the moment, or those who have left in the last few months. They are augmenting rather than replacing squadron crews and they will be used in times of crisis, so that we have something to fall back on." Trials into the feasibility of recruiting and training volunteers with the F3s will take place between 1 October to 30 September next year. Trials involving other aircraft types may follow, Mr Reid said.