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Julian Young (RAF officer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Julian Young
Air Marshall Julian Young with Dawn McCafferty and Carol Vorderman (Young cropped).jpg
Young in 2018
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1980 –
RankAir Marshal
Commands heldAir Member for Materiel (2016–)
RAF Cosford (2002–03)
Battles/warsGulf War
AwardsCompanion of the Order of the Bath
Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Air Marshal Sir Julian Alexander Young, KBE, CB, FREng is a Royal Air Force (RAF) officer who served as Chief of Materiel – Air at Defence Equipment and Support.

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  • Air Vice-Marshal Julian Young, DE&S Director Technical, interview at UWE Bristol
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Hi I'm Ian Mean, Content Director for Local World Newspapers in this region and tonight I'm talking to Air Vice-Marshal Julian Young. This is part of the Distinguished Address Series being organised by the University of the West England and sponsored by the Bristol Post. Julian Young, tell us something about your job because we're sitting in UWE here and you're pretty much next door aren't you? In Abbeywood, which is the main forces procurement centre for the UK? Absolutely so the defense equipment and support organisation, DNS as we call it, sits here alongside UWE, an office complex on the Filton ring road, and our responsibility for the entirety of MOD is to procure kit and services in support of the armed forces and the front line, now and into the future. Here in peace time and indeed on operations. Yeah, now you've got something like nine thousand people working there is that right? About nine thousand people on the floor plate here at Abbeywood, sixteen and a bit thousand across the entirety of the organisation and they are scattered across various parts of the United Kingdom again in support of the front line. Your team are responsible for ordering something literally from boots to nuclear submarines - is that a too simplified way of putting it? No I would say that that's a vey good way of describing it, and everything in between. So it's a very complex organisation, what that means is that we have a large number of engineers a large number of project managers who are incredibly specialised in their own skills, with great experience of bringing in very large projects, sometimes over a number of years, bringing into service equipments that may last on the front line for 20, 30, perhaps 50 years or more. So how far ahead Julian are you ordering things? Five years is that..? A project for instance of a big engineering nature, would it go, would it take that long to come to fruition? It would take sometimes up to twenty years, so typhoon aircraft, which came into service about eight or nine years ago from memory, had been on the drawing board as it were for some twenty years and can take that long as it were to all of the complexities, recognising that many of the very larger projects are actually multinational and thus are meeting the requirements of a great number of nations. And how do you cope with these huge overuns that we hear about? On a day to day, like today, so we have budget day today, so everyone is worried about the pounds in their pocket it's absolutely right that organisations like ours in the public sector come under scrutiny from organisations such as the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee, The House of Commons Defense Committee, all of them are scrutinising what it is we do, indeed when I reflect back there are some things which haven't gone all as well as they might for a number of years, very complex programs but nonetheless the latest NAO audit a major project review, which they undertook only last calendar month was much more positive about what we're doing, so I think that we are on track, I think we are making improvements in the way that we go about our forecasting of money, and in fact delivering what the front line want, which is to cost time and performance. But if you were a chief executive of a private company Julian wouldn't be out on your ear? Because a lot of these figures are amazing aren't they, they're so so big people say how could that happen, how can you be so far over budget? Well I'm not quite sure it's fair to compare what goes on in private industry with indeed what goes on within our world, in as far as many of the projects that we're involved in are multi-billion pound projects as I say over ten and twenty years. The complexity of what we deliver far surpasses much of what else goes on in the UK sector, and indeed some of the companies that you might say well what about the CEO of this particular company, many of those are actually our suppliers, and so I think that we are increasingly working together as an overall team defense as it were to deliver again what the front line wants. So team defence is a good way of putting it, but are you very much controlled by the politicians. Any government department is controlled by the politicians, I think that's what we elect them for, so of course we are here to meet the needs of the government, but that's very clearly stated in the defense policy. Our leader in the defense department is the Secretary of State, a very powerful person who of course drives government policy, but that's through defense policy for the good of the United Kingdom, so any member the public sector is held acount quite rightly by the government and in fact is doing what the government bids. Now lots of criticism in the past, particularly in Afghanistan over equipment isn't there? A lot of it sometimes from relatives of families who have lost people in the field, in the theatre. How do you react to that because lots of questions about boots, we talked about boots to nuclear submarines, you don't go out of your way to provide cheap equipment, cheap boots, that doesn't enter your head presumably? We strive for value for money, but that doesn't necessarily, that certainly does not mean cheap products at the expense of quality. I myself was in Afghanistan 20 months ago and indeed the armful of clothing and boots and various paraphernalia that I walked away from clothing stores to support me on my week in theatre was probably the most extensive range of equipment that I'd ever had to use. I did wonder where it was going to all fit in the wardrobe. So when we got back...have you still got it? I still have it because I got it out on charge and at some point I may need it again. It's worn, so I don't know if you want some socks that I've worn in Afghanistan to go back into stores, but indeed ultimately when I don't need it anymore then it will be returned back to stores. But if we look back at all of the equipment that we provide, we can't always have the right equipment at the right time, certainly what we do and actually take great pride in is responding to the front line requirements as quickly as we can with, as I said earlier, quality products in support of our troops, our armed forces remembering that some of us sitting in the defense equipment and support organisation are military and the rest are very highly committed civil servants who again are there to deliver what is needed. Over the period of Afghanistan duty, what's been the single biggest improvement factor in terms of the equipment you've supplied? The biggest single factor, I'm not sure. Or area? Yeah area, okay. For instance Landrovers are under great criticism, they've now obviously improved hugely? Yes certainly, I think perhaps protection to our own armed forces be that in terms of armoured vehicles, like the armoured vehicles, and in fact the clothing coming back to boots, but the clothing that our troops are wearing in theatre, which is absolutely second to none in terms of the quality and the protection that is being offered. Come what may clearly people are injured, people do die in theatre and those are all tragic losses, but we have gone to great lengths over the last few years in offering greater levels of protection to our troops so that they can perform the operations they must to provide a safer and free Afghanistan. Now, you've been over there quite recently? A lot of us have seen TV pictures of these enourmous convoys of hardware coming out of Afghanistan, what's going to happent to all that Julian? What's going to happen to all these vehicles that are coming back? All of the vehicles and all of the equipment that's coming back is going to be conditioned, the decisions we've made as to what needs to be retained, recognising that much of it was tailored very specifically to the Afghan theatre and let's hope that we don't have to go back to soon, in fact I am certain we won't. And so all of that kit that's coming back will be firstly checked for its servicability against a strategic requirement as to what is it that we're going to accept back into core requirement, recognising that the army is in fact getting smaller, and indeed we're back onto contingent operations. So who knows where that next operation may flare up in the world. So will some of that be sold? Is it like warships sold to a foreign country? I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that it's not my part of ship as it were, but I would imagine that some of it will be sold and others will be refurbished and put back on the stocks for the next time that we need something of that particular type. Now you're an engineer, we're sitting here in UWE you set out on your career path because you were a sponsored student weren't you? To City University in London? And we're in the middle National Science and Engineering week, can you tell us how important it is to have the relationship between a university like UWE here and big business basically? The important, the links that we have between all academia and engineering organisations like my own as it were are crucial. I have previously been head of the engineering branch in the Royal Airforce so if I liken that activity which is very similar to the type of skills that we require in both military and civil service people within this organisation, we go out of our way to sponsor an awful lot of people through university through bursary schemes, we recruit a lot graduate engineers and we also let huge number of apprenticeships, so in the organisation that I work now, the DNS, we recruited 125 graduates, all engineers, in this academic year and next year we'll be aiming to recruit 130. Last year we recruited 67 apprentices and this year our target is 85, so we have very strong links with the universities and also the local Bristol area, and indeed we are a good employer. We care about the knowledge and expertise of our people, so it's not only a case of recruiting high quality individuals, but we are prepared to invest in their professional development whether that's through further university courses or any form of academic training and experience to ensure that we get the right people delivering the projects that we have, which as we talked about earlier are hugely complicated and deserve the best people. And what's your view about university and the world of work? Lots and lots of people in business are very critical aren't they? Of the people who come out of university - are they actually prepared for the world of work? What's your view on that? Well, I can give my own personal experience, I think the youngsters that we're getting our of university these days are high quality. I was up at Loughborough University only last Thursday visiting students that the MOD has sponsored through the defence technical under- graduate scheme and the individuals that I saw there were keen, enthusiastic, eager to actually get through their studies and out the other side. They were doing a large amount of adventurous training during their studies, cramming that in, a lot of leadership and military type activity and we get some excellent quality individuals out of that product. I would say that, are they as good as we were in the old days? I would say they are better. They are different because we recruit people that reflect the society, in which we live now and when I joined 33 years ago society was different. I think the people that we get now are far more aware of what's going on about them, far more traveled, far more wise around the world, more street wise and actually are prepared to question and once they get the answer they will see delivery through. Yeah, we just had a budget today and you know, one of the things that I think government needs to look at is the whole situation of young people. We still have a huge amount of young people unemployed don't we? What is your view of the skills debate in young people, where do you stand on skills in young people? I think if I were to reflect back on the drive to encourage people to university I think that's the right thing, but also at the same time I think that there is a far stronger place in society, in the UK, for further training and for apprenticeships. Where in fact the academic rigour is actually equaled with work experience directly related to the jobs that they will find at the end, so I'm a big fan of apprenticeships and I think that the more that we support those the better. We in DNS are hugely proud that we have had a thriving apprenticeship scheme for the last 10 years with indeed as I described earlier growing numbers as we're going through that. On a personal basis I'm a governor at the City of Bath College where again I am very proud to be part of what that college is doing, as is the academic area across the entire South West. I think it's very focused on providing people that are ready for work. And how do you think in your sector, you know National Science and Engineering week, how do you think Julian this Bristol area is placed? It's got so much going for it hasn't it? Big companies like Airbus, lots of research going on, are we very much in the forefront of that type of project? I think from a regional perspective if we could tie together all of the industry that we have here, it's BAS, it's Rolls Royce, it's EADS, it's Airbus, it's Atkins, it's MBDA, all from a engineering and partly defense basis along with all of the academic institutes that exist in this area, and again with the industry, with a nuclear power station just about to be built on our doorstep, I think there is a great opportunity for a very strong and vibrant engineering community to be developed here. Could you develop some sort of hub for engineering? Is there any point in doing something like that? Could you describe hub? A hub, an involvement of companies and academia together particularly looking at engineering. OK, I think that those arrangements pretty much already exist, in as far as the Bristol area is hugely competitive for engineers, so whilst we bring in graduate engineers and we are constantly on the lookout for high quality engineers, competition is tough and indeed I think all of those organisations, like our own are undertaking stem activity, trying to promote science, technology, engineering and maths in the local schools to make sure that the next generation of youngsters will look and see engineering as a viable career opportunity. What about UWE, we hear you're about to talk to, in a debate, to people here at UWE? How are they rated in your view? We have a number of undergraduates here which we sponsor on a part-time basis, so a lot of our apprenticeships that we offer, around half of those people within the first two years of actually finishing the apprenticeship and working in our organisation actually find their way into UWE on part-time engineering degree courses, so we have a good relationship with UWE, our next door neighbour and are very pleased with what we get out at the end in terms of quality of output. Good, thank you. You're most welcome.

RAF career

Young was commissioned into the RAF on 31 August 1980.[1] He became Station Commander at RAF Cosford in 2002.[2] He went on to be Assistant Chief of Staff at RAF Air Command in February 2007, Director of Defence Support Review in August 2009 and Chief of Staff Support at RAF Air Command in December 2010.[2] After that he became Technical Director & Chief Information Officer at Defence Equipment and Support in December 2012, Director Helicopters at Defence Equipment and Support in February 2015[3] and Chief of Materiel (Air) at Defence Equipment and Support in April 2016.[4]

Young was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2013 New Year Honours[5] and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2016.[6] He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours.[7]


  1. ^ "No. 48460". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 December 1980. p. 17815.
  2. ^ a b "Air Vice Marshal Julian Young". IET. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Air Vice Marshal Julian Young". Mach Exhibition. Archived from the original on 25 June 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Senior Appointments". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  5. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 2.
  6. ^ "New Fellows 2016: Air Marshal Julian Young". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  7. ^ "No. 62866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 2019. p. N7.
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Simon Bollom
Chief of Materiel – Air, Defence Equipment and Support
and Air Member for Materiel

Succeeded by
Richard Thompson
This page was last edited on 29 September 2020, at 12:31
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