LONDON — Britain’s Royal Air Force has become the country’s first military service to open up all roles to women — including close combat roles.

The RAF will start taking applications Friday from women interested in joining its ground-fighting force, a 2,000-strong regiment that protects bases and airfields around the world.

In announcing the decision in July, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said this was a “defining moment for the RAF.”

Fallon says individuals capable of meeting the standards for the regiment should be allowed to serve regardless of gender.

Prime Minister David Cameron lifted the ban on women serving in close combat units in 2016 and the services are making the transition.

Britain’s army has opened up some of its close combat roles to women, but not all roles.

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