RAF
Women will be allowed close combat roles in the RAFBethany Clarke/Getty Images

The Royal Air Force's ground-fighting force has become the first branch of the British military to open up every role to women.

From today (1 September) RAF Regiment will be accepting applications from both men and women after the ban on females serving in close combat was lifted.

The RAF was due to open recruitment to women by the end of 2018, but a review of work practices found in terms of risks, it was closer to the Royal Armoured Corps which is already admitting women to its training ranks.

Women will still have to wait until next year to apply for the roles in the Marines, which have much tougher training demands.

The 2,000-strong RAF Regiment's main role is to protect RAF bases and airfields.

In 2016, former prime minister David Cameron announced the ban on women serving in close combat roles in the RAF would be lifted after a recommendation from the chief of general staff Nick Carter.

In July, defence secretary Michael Fallon described the move as a "defining moment".

Speaking at the annual RAF Air Power Conference in London, he 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."

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said: "We want the best and most talented individuals to join the Air Force, regardless of their gender, race or background. A diverse force is a more effective force and we need the best people to deliver the important work we do, be it defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria or protecting Britain's skies."