It is reported that Defence Secretary Liam Fox has ended speculation that the Royal Air Force could be merged with the other armed services. From Virginia-based journal, DefenseNews:

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox has rejected calls to merge the Royal Air Force into the U.K.'s other armed services.

In a speech to military and industry leaders in London on July 13, Fox said he has rejected advice urging him to merge air operations fully into other services.

"I am clear that the RAF makes a definable and unique contribution to Britain's defense - a contribution that it would be wrong to dispense with," Fox said at the Royal United Services Institute Air Power Conference.

The defense secretary said Britain could not afford to lose the doctrinal understanding of air power and its effects, which is burned deep into collective fiber of the force.

"The value of the RAF is not confined to history - far from it," he said.

The Ministry of Defence recently rolled out a series of proposed structural reforms that stopped short of merging the armed services but said that it intended to create a joint forces command led by a four-star general.

That command will likely pull together some joint assets such as intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR).

Fox said that joint operations are in the "very DNA" of the force.

Doug Barrie, senior air analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said Fox had taken the right decision. "The use of air power is both served through sustaining an independent organization geared to operating often in a joint environment. Merger would have ill-served the U.K.'s military capability," Barrie said.

Fox went on to praise the role of the Typhoon fighter in the air campaign against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya and said the aircraft's performance was impressing potential export customers, including India, where the jet is in a head-to-head competition with France's Rafale for a multibillion-pound deal.