The British Royal Air Force (RAF) is to allow women into ground close combat roles for the first time, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has revealed.

The RAF Regiment originally planned to open its recruitment to women by the end of next year, alongside the Infantry and Royal Marines, but the process will now begin from September this year.

Fallon said: “A diverse force is a more operationally effective force.

"Individuals who are capable of meeting the standards for the regiment will be given the opportunity to serve, regardless of their gender.

“This is a defining moment for the RAF, as it becomes the first service to have every trade and branch open to both genders.”

The RAF Regiment is the air force’s ground fighting force that is responsible for protecting RAF bases, aircraft, and equipment at home and abroad.

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By GlobalData
"We want the best and most talented individuals to join the Air Force, regardless of their gender, race, or background."

Last July, the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary announced that all three services would start recruiting women for ground close combat roles.

Chief of the Air Staff air chief marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: “The RAF is committed to providing equal opportunity to all.

"We want the best and most talented individuals to join the Air Force, regardless of their gender, race, or background.

“We need the best people to deliver the important work we do, be it defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria, or protecting Britain’s skies.”

Fallon also said that the UK will continue to provide Air Transport support to French counter-terrorist operations in Sahel for at least the next six months.