Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsDR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsEMMETT SULLIVAN: Now continuing our discussion of RAF in the global context in the Cold War period. Ross, we're presently standing in the middle of the Oman exhibition, which you're presently hosting at RAF Hendon. Did you curate this? DR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 23 secondsROSS MAHONEY: Yes. This was one of my first jobs when I joined the museum just over two years ago. I was to curate the exhibition on the RAF's relationship with the Royal Air Force of Oman. DR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 33 secondsEMMETT SULLIVAN: We've had a fairly longstanding relationship with them. I think one of the things you put up on the web was, the first treaty goes back to the end of the 18th century. DR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsROSS MAHONEY: Yes, there has been-- to borrow the phrase-- an enduring relationship between the two countries, stemming back to the 18th century. And that's been replicated in the relationship between the Royal Air Force and what is now known as the Royal Air Force of Oman-- what was originally known as the Sultan of Oman's Air Force. DR.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 secondEMMETT SULLIVAN: OK, thank you. Now the RAF maintained airbases in Oman up until 1977, and just looking around the exhibition, there is both the Jebel Akdhar campaign and the Dhofar War. Was the RAF directly involved in either of these conflicts? DR.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsROSS MAHONEY: The RAF is directly involved with the Jebel Akdhar campaign. It's a campaign, from an air-power perspective, fought by the RAF. The RAF assets in the Middle East, operating out of places such as RAF Masirah. In terms of the Dhofar War, there are RAF personnel involved. Principally loan officers, so as the Omani Air Force develops, the RAF has a system loan officers. So there are people such as, eventually, Chief of Defence Staff Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Stirrup served as a loan officer in the 1970s with the RAF. And also former RAF officers, who were then referred to as contract officers, in the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 secondsSo yes, the RAF plays an important role in both of these wars. And actually, the RAF's role in the Jebel Akdhar War is really the impetus for forming the Sultan of Oman's Air Force. DR.

Skip to 2 minutes and 20 secondsEMMETT SULLIVAN: Thank you. I understand that the RAF would periodically station Vulcans in Oman in the 1960s and 1970s, for those that were more permanently based in Cyprus. So what was the logic behind that? DR.

Skip to 2 minutes and 34 secondsROSS MAHONEY: Yes, so the RAF deploys Vulcans to Cyprus as part of its committee to the Central Treaty Organisation. So, of course, we've talked quite a bit-- and will continue to do during the course-- about NATO. Of course, there are actually a series of organisations around the world-- CENTO and also Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation. But they're part of the containment of the Soviet Union. And so Vulcans are deployed as part of Britain's commitment to CENTO. And, on occasion, they would deploy to Oman. They would go to Masirah and deploy, as part of the obligation to Britain's defence of the region. DR.

Skip to 3 minutes and 13 secondsEMMETT SULLIVAN: OK and just a final note. How did the RAF get involved in the railway business in a Oman? DR.

Skip to 3 minutes and 21 secondsROSS MAHONEY: An interesting sideline. The base, RAF Masirah, is on an island off the Omani coast. And there was a need to build a railway between the airbase and essentially, for lack of better description, the port on the island to bring up supplies. And so there is this small railway. But actually, it's quite an interesting point. We think of the RAF in terms of aircraft and pilots, but, of course, there's a lot more to the RAF. Pilots never account for more-- or aviators, more broadly-- never account for much more than about 10% of the RAF's strength. And also apart from the railway business, the RAF is also quite heavily involved in boats. The RAF maintains an air-sea rescue branch.

Skip to 4 minutes and 6 secondsSo there is much more to the RAF, and, of course, the RAF Regiment as well. They RAF has its own tanks-- Scorpion light tanks. So there is much more to the RAF than just aircraft. DR.

Skip to 4 minutes and 18 secondsEMMETT SULLIVAN: OK. Thank you, Ross, for that. We'll leave Oman on the broader note of the RAF, and move on to the next section.


Oman in the Cold War

In this video we discuss the following questions and statements:

  1. The RAF maintained bases in Oman (RAF Masirah and Salalah) remained important staging posts and bases until 1977. The present exhibition mentions the Jebel Akhdar Campaign and Dhofar War from the 1950s onwards. What was the role of the RAF in these conflicts?

  2. Vulcans would periodically visit Masirah in the 1960s and 1970s.

  3. How did the RAF get into the railway business in Oman?

We would welcome your thoughts in the comments for this video.

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This video is from the free online course:

From World War to White Heat: the RAF in the Cold War

Royal Holloway, University of London