D-Day 80th anniversary parachute jumps face cutbacks with only one plane available

Veterans watch a D-Day memorial parachute jump near Ranville in France
The Red Devils parachute display team will jump into Normandy next month - Paul Grover for the Telegraph

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been forced to cut back D-Day memorial parachute jumps as only one plane is guaranteed.

Grant Shapps said that the shortage of planes for the mass parachute drop to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day showed why more money needed to be invested in defence.

The Defence Secretary has ordered an urgent review into the situation, although defence sources insisted that they were “confident” two aircrafts would be secured for the jump in Normandy next month.

“There will be two planes,” they said. “I would expect another plane.”

Hundreds of paratroopers had been expected to perform the jump to honour the actions of their predecessors in the Second World War.

Currently only one RAF A400M has been designated for paratroopers from 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, while the Red Devils parachute display team will jump into Normandy.

However, defence sources insisted that resources have been stretched by Nato operations at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased activity by the alliance and the RAF’s transport aircraft have also played a role dropping aid into Gaza.

An RAF A400M seen during a refuel near Ascention Island
Currently only one RAF A400M has been designated for paratroopers - Sgt Graham Taylor RAF/Mount Pleasant Complex Photographic Section

A source close to Mr Shapps told The Telegraph that the situation, first reported by The Mail on Sunday, will “definitely be fixed”.

They added Mr Shapps is a “big believer” in learning the lessons of the past.

“That means showing due respect and honour to those who have helped protect the nation in the past,” they said.

Speaking to GB News, Mr Shapps said: “It’s important that D-Day is remembered properly here. It will be, by the way, both in Portsmouth and in France. I want to make sure it’s done properly and come back to the decisions that pre-date my time.”

He added: “We know there are several live wars going on and they are being used for those purposes, but I’m quite sure to commemorate something as significant as D-Day we can do a bit better than that, and I’ve undertaken to make sure we do.”

RAF parachutists jump over Salisbury Plains
'D-Day 80 will offer a comprehensive programme of tributes from today's Armed Forces,' the MoD has said - over Salisbury Plains

An MoD spokesman said: “D-Day 80 will offer a comprehensive programme of tributes from today’s Armed Forces to their forebears with a significant amount of activity in both France and the UK, involving thousands of personnel, Royal Air Force fly-pasts and Royal Navy vessels.

“This will include a commemorative jump by UK paratroopers from an A400M aircraft on June 5 alongside Allied counterparts.”

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, Tobias Ellwood, the former defence minister, said that the pared-back memorial jump is indicative of the MoD’s modern funding approach.

“As things stand, the paras’ hopes of putting on a large-scale multi-plane parachute drop has been limited to a single aircraft and just 100 of them jumping out,” he said.

“The issue demonstrates a sad and simple truth – today’s RAF lacks heavy lift transport capacity after all Hercules transport fleet, which served our nation so well for more than 50 years, was scrapped to save money.”