Para recruits 'not trained to jump'
FEWER than one in four new recruits to the Parachute Regiment are being trained to jump because of a shortage of planes.
The number of trainees completing the parachute course at Brize Norton and gaining the coveted "wings" and red beret has fallen from 93 per cent in 2003 to just under a quarter last year.
The military has blamed the form on a shortage of RAF Hercules to provide the jumping platform. Hundreds of soldiers, who have to complete the arduous P Company training before going to parachute school, are returning to their units without their coveted wings and red beret.
And sources within the Parachute Regiment say this leads to recruits being treated like "second class citizens".
The figures are even worse for Territorial Army paratroopers with only one weekend soldier - a medical student who reported sick and was granted extra time off - passing the test with the adequate jumps last year.
In 2003, 93 per cent of TA paratroopers passed. Paratroop regiment commanders have blamed the RAF for lacking flexibility in providing aircraft, but its chiefs say the fleet of 50 C130 Hercules has to make a priority of delivering supplies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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