The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's air force, the oldest independent air force in the world. Formed on 1 April 1918, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history ever since, playing a large part in World War II and in more recent conflicts. The RAF operates almost 1,100 aircraft and, as of 31 March 2008, had a projected trained strength of 41,440 regular personnel. The majority of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the UK with many others serving on operations (principally Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, the South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean) or at long-established overseas bases (Ascension Island, Canada, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Germany, and Qatar).
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