BOURNEMOUTH Air Festival favourites the Red Arrows must not be “destroyed”.

Those are the words of the chairman of Bournemouth Red Arrows’ Association following reports in a national newspaper at the weekend that the iconic planes could be axed in the next round of defence cuts.

It was reported that sources with the Prime Minister in Liberia on Friday suggested that the legendary team could be in line for the chop.

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team has a special place in the hearts of Bournemouth people, particularly following the death of Flt Lt Jon Egging following a display at the 2011 festival.

The team costs the MoD a relatively small £9million a year but the weekend’s report claimed that they could become a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.

The Red Arrows have been the highlight of Bournemouth Air Festival over the past five years and the team has spoken of its fondness for Bournemouth, particularly in the wake of Flt Lt Egging’s tragic death.

Terry Trevett, chairman of Bournemouth Red Arrows’ Association, said: “Once again there is an attempt to destroy something that’s truly British. The Red Arrows are some of the finest ambassadors this country has ever had and should continue to be such fine representatives of our country.

“The estimated cost of £9 million is a tiny sum when considered overall as part of the defence budget. Bournemouth has a proud connection with the Red Arrows, going back to their foundation in 1965, and represents a small part of the huge following that the Reds have worldwide.

“I’m proud to have had connections with the team for many years and I know my thoughts and views are shared by everyone who believes that the Red Arrows are part of our country’s heritage.

“Let’s be proud of what we have – especially the Red Arrows.”

Defence bosses have already had to cut personnel and equipment as a result of the Government’s five-year plan.

It is being argued the Arrows are an unaffordable luxury. The MoD denied the Arrows faced the axe, dismissing the story as “speculation”.