Photo gallery: Dismay at threat to Red Arrows. Poll: What do you think?

The 16th Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival. 2012The Red Arrows.

The 16th Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival. 2012The Red Arrows. - Credit: Archant © 2012

Dismay in Norfolk and Suffolk has greeted this morning's reports that the Red Arrows could be scrapped as part of defence spending cuts.

The crack RAF aerobatic squad may be axed, saving £9m a year and releasing highly-skilled pilots for other duties, according to a national newspaper.

Norfolk and Suffolk have long had soft spots for the team who have been the highlights of both the Lowestoft Airshow and Cromer Carnival for many years.

The Red Arrows used to close the first day of the Lowestoft Airshow and open the second day, with many visitors staying throughout the first day to make sure they didn't miss the spectacle, according to ex-RAF serviceman Colin Laws, leader of Waveney District Council.

'They have always been one of our major attractions and have done very well for us over the years,' he added.

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'They play a vital role in selling our military expertise worldwide - they are great ambassadors for the UK.'

The two-day airshow, which began in 1997, has been cancelled this year because organisers could not find £60,000 to top up the event's wet weather contingency reserve.

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Tony Shipp, chairman of the Cromer Carnival committee, said the town would be extremely disappointed if the Red Arrows were disbanded.

'I think everyone would fight to keep them,' he added. 'They are such a big draw. Since we began having the Red Arrows here in 1981, our crowds have increased. They have become part of carnival day.

'We heard rumours last year that they could be part of the cuts but we were reassured. They are such wonderful representatives of this country.'

Carnival organisers are waiting to hear whether their application to book the Red Arrows for this year's event, on August 21, has been successful.

The two seaside towns were united in sorrow in August 2011 when Red Arrows pilot Jon Egging was killed when his Hawk T1 crashed during a display in Bournemouth.

Ft Lt Egging had been among the Red Arrows team thrilling the Cromer Carnival crowds only three days before the tragedy and he had also performed with the squad at the Lowestoft Airshow earlier that month. The team cancelled their planned appearance at the Eye Show a few days later.

According to The Sun, a Downing Street source has insisted the Red Arrows were not under threat but their future could be raised during budget talks as part of 'shroud-waving' by defence chiefs.

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