Programme HYDRO – Recovery of heating and hot water across the Air Estate

Image of a shower head with water coming out of the nozzles.

The Air Force Main Board has endorsed the immediate implementation of Programme HYDRO to target the recovery of heating and hot water (H&HW) across the Air Estate.

Hot water is a problem across the Air Estate and needs to be urgently addressed. Failures have led to local relocations, impact on our people and consequences for our capability. It needs to be addressed if the Service is to embrace the opportunities set out in Astra. The Air Force Main Board has therefore redirected additional finance from the equipment budget into Programme HYDRO – a targeted campaign to fix failures immediately and recapitalise the estate over time.

Project HYDRO/1 will:

Minimise failures through restarting preventative maintenance; introduce water softening; accelerate response and recovery times through purchase of spares ahead of failures, and enable procurement of temporary water heaters, fitting of external hot water connections and removal of underground asbestos to allow quicker repairs. HYDRO/1 will have tight governance (CAS direction, 3* lead, a programme team and routine data reporting) which will help oversee and drive the Programme. Collectively, these measures will dramatically reduce hot water-induced disruption.

A longer-term HYDRO/2 will:

Address the fundamental problem – that the Air estate is largely prewar, needs comprehensive recapitalisation and intelligent investment. HYDRO/2 will be delivered through a sequence of estate development plans prioritised by the Main Board. Hot water will be a major factor that influences this sequence, alongside runways, new equipment, accommodation and family support facilities. This is where more than £1.5 billion will be spent over the next 10 years.

RAF FF Director, Maria Lyle said:

“This subject has come up again and again in workshops and discussions with the RAF Families Federation, raised by those living in Single Living Accommodation at sites across the RAF. It is good to see it being gripped. There will be some hard funding and project management choices coming I am sure, and we will be following developments with interest.”

Key points

  • Programme HYDRO is a key Air Force Main Board priority, driven by the Deputy Commander Capability with progress to be reviewed monthly by our Chief of the Air Staff.
  • HYDRO will recover heating and hot water in 2 phases: short-term measures in the next 2 years to recover hot water quickly, and longer-term recapitalisation of our estate over 10 years.
  • HYDRO/1 will start immediately and be completed before Apr 22. It will be guided by an RAF estate ‘heat map’ and a ‘worst-first’ plan led by HQ Air.
  • HYDRO/1 will restart boiler maintenance, start water softening, purchase spares, lease/purchase temporary water heaters, fit external water connections, remove underground asbestos and be run by a dedicated team.
  • HYDRO/2 will recapitalise our complete estate, including underground district hot water systems, over the next 10 years and beyond. It will be a prime factor in the HQ Air strategic infrastructure plan, along with accommodation, new aircraft/equipment, runways and family support facilities.
  • HYDRO/2 will be led by an RAF airfield review that will identify the RAF’s long-term footprint and sequence for major works, which will include hot water systems.

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Source: RAF

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