Tag Archives: Ministry of Defence

Finland’s airspace violated by Russian bombers

Finland’s Ministry of Defence has recently revealed that two Russian military aircraft violated the airspace of the northern European country earlier this week. The official statement was published on the MoD official website on Tuesday.

A Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornet fighter jet was scrambled in order to intercept the intruders.

The Russian response was that Tu-22M bombers escorted by Su-27 fighters (more or less the same kind of formation that staged the mock attack on Sweden some weeks ago) were flying close to the border but did not violate it.

Nevertheless it is the second incident involving Finland and Russian planes this month. On the earlier episode the Russian official statement was that the planes came close to the border due to the bad weather.

In one way or another one, this is just the last of a series of incidents involving Russian planes in the Scandinavian region.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: coldvalentine.blogspot.com

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Impressive: huge Merlin helicopter eaten by C-17 cargo

After flying more than 18,000 hours in Afghanistan, moving more than 7,900 tonnes of kit and stores and transporting over 130,000 personnel since 2009, RAF Merlin helicopters have finished their deployment in the Helmand region, where they have primarly flown troop transport missions.


The following images where released by the UK MoD, and show one of the large, partly disassembled choppers (the same used for the 2012 Olympic opener and latest 007 movie) inside a RAF C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft used to bring the Merlins back home.


Image credit: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright

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UK flying its MQ-9 Reaper UAVs from RAF Waddington as well as from Creech AFB, Nevada

British media outlets are reporting that the Royal Air Force is now flying its MQ-9 Reaper drones from Lincolnshire as well as from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

The Guardian has reported that the crews based at RAF Waddington are working in tandem with their colleagues in the U.S. providing round the clock operations in Afghanistan due to the time difference between the UK and US.

No 13 Squadron stood up at Waddington at the end of October to operate the MQ-9 Reaper alongside 39 Squadron based at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

The Sky News website quotes the British MoD as saying “XIII Sqn have commenced supporting ISAF and Afghan ground troops in Afghanistan with armed intelligence and surveillance missions, which are remotely piloted from RAF Waddington.”

The Guardian quoted a source as saying “We aren’t flying any more operations than we were before, but with the time differences between the US, Afghanistan and the UK, it is now possible for pilots at Waddington to work in relay with the those in the US.”

It is thought that the RAF has three control stations at its drone ‘hub’ at Waddington and these have gone through a very tough testing process to make sure these new stations are fit for purpose.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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RAF Typhoon scrambles for second intercept in London Olympics No-Fly Zone

On Aug. 3, at 16.49 local time, a Royal Air Force Typhoon was scrambled for the second time since a No-Fly Zone was established, from RAF Northolt, North West London.

Eye witnesses stated that the fighter jet took off and performed a near vertical climb out from the base. Whilst the Typhoon thundered into the late afternoon skies a second taxied to the end of the runway as a spare.

The target aircraft was a Boeing 737 business jet, serial number N444HE, registered to Wells Fargo Bank, which was cruising at 36,000 feet, when the Typhoon arrived on its left hand side for visual identification and escort.

From the end of the runway to the wing of the target the Typhoon took only 3.5 minutes!

The fighter jet on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) was scrambled after the B737 failed to respond to the Air Traffic Control calls on the radio.

After a few minutes the Typhoon broke away from the target and requested a bit of general handling to burn fuel before returning to RAF Northolt.

Serial Number of the RAF Typhoon involed is thought to be ZJ923.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Giovanni Maduli

British pilots flew armed U.S drones during the Libyan conflict

Several online news outlets, including the British Newspaper The Guardian, have been running news articles stating that British exchange pilots in the U.S flew armed American Predator drones during the Libyan conflict. The disclosure had slipped out during a parliamentary answer, some 10 months after the end of the conflict, during which the British Government had insisted that no British armed drones had been used. Whilst technically still true the MOD (Ministry of Defence) has since admitted that RAF personnel on an exchange program had indeed flown the armed predators during the conflict whom became a key part of the air war.

During the conflict, between April and October (2011), the Predators performed some 145 air strikes according the figures released by the Pentagon; it remains unclear how many of those air strikes were flown by British personnel. The Guardian quoted a RAF source as saying that the British pilots would have followed British ROEs (Rules Of Engagement) rather than U.S. ones. “If they were asked to go beyond their own nation’s rules, then they would refuse to do so.”

The Defence Minister Lord Astor had “let the cat out of the bag” on Tuesday Jul. 26 during questions and said “Her Majesty’s government do not use armed remotely piloted air systems against terrorist suspects outside Afghanistan. However, UK personnel flew armed remotely piloted air systems against Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011, in support of the NATO humanitarian mission authorised under UNSCR resolution 1973.”

The MoD was quick to make a statement on the subject: “There were no and are no UK remotely piloted air systems operating outside of Afghanistan. The UK armed forces routinely embed UK personnel with allied nation units (and vice versa) via exchange programmes. As confirmed by Lord Astor, UK personnel embedded within a US unit flew armed remotely piloted air systems missions against Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011,” the spokesman said to The Guardian.

In 2007, to operate its MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) drone alongside the USAF in support of UK ground forces in Afghanistan, the Royal Air Force formed 39 Sqn at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

British Reapers provide real-time video imagery to ground commanders, with the capability to attack ground targets if required.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Crown Copyright