Defence chiefs are scrambling to secure more planes for a parachute drop to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day as crises in Ukraine and the Middle East have left the RAF’s transport fleet stretched.

Hundreds of paratroopers had been expected to jump into Normandy to honour the actions of their predecessors in the Second World War, but plans have been scaled back due to a shortage of aircraft.

The Mail on Sunday reported that just one plane had been left for the Parachute Regiment to use, but defence sources are hopeful at least one more can be made available.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has ordered an urgent review.

Paratroopers from 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team will jump from an RAF A400M and the Red Devils Parachute Display Team will also jump into Normandy.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Humanitarian aid being air-dropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft (Cpl Tim Laurence RAF/PA)

But resources have been stretched by Nato operations at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased activity by the alliance and the RAF’s transport aircraft have also played a crucial role dropping aid in to Gaza.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “D-Day 80 will offer a comprehensive programme of tributes from today’s armed forces to their forebears with a significant amount of activity in both France and the UK, involving thousands of personnel, Royal Air Force flypasts, and Royal Navy vessels.

“This will include a commemorative jump by UK paratroopers from an A400M aircraft on June 5 alongside Allied counterparts.”

A source close to Mr Shapps said: “This is a special anniversary of D-Day and the UK will play a full part in the commemorations with a significant military representation.

“The A400 fleet has been involved in a wide range of complex operations, including Nato missions and aid drops to Gaza, and the Defence Secretary is grateful for all the work of those involved.”

Writing in the Daily Mail, former defence minister Tobias Ellwood said the pared-back memorial jump is indicative of the MoD’s modern funding approach.

“As things stand, the Paras’ hopes of putting on a large-scale multi-plane parachute drop has been limited to a single aircraft and just 100 of them jumping out,” he said.

“The issue demonstrates a sad and simple truth – today’s RAF lacks heavy lift transport capacity after all Hercules transport fleet, which served our nation so well for more than 50 years, was scrapped to save money.”

Labour MP and former defence minister Kevan Jones called on Mr Shapps to resolve the issue out of respect for those who fought for Britain.

“Veterans who took part in the historic operation on the blood-soaked Normandy beaches and the Nazi-infested territory beyond it will rightly be furious that 80 years on, the MoD can’t provide enough planes,” he told the Daily Mail.

“Grant Shapps should pull his finger out and sort this immediately.”

Defence sources are hopeful one more A400M at least can be made available for the D-Day events.