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Typhoons and the warship HMS Iron Duke will deploy to the Baltic this month.

Four Typhoons will take the lead role of the Baltic Air Policing mission which aims to safeguard the safety of NATO partners and wider Europe. Based at Amari air base in Estonia, the crews will operate in a Quick Reaction Alert role.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

“British planes protecting Baltic skies alongside our warship patrols and troops exercising, show how serious we are about the security of our eastern European partners.

With a defence budget that is increasing for the first time in six years, we can use our forces to keep Britain and our allies safe.”

Later this year Iron Duke is due to operate in the Baltic region with up to four other Royal Navy ships, including HMS Ocean and HMS Pembroke.

17 COMMENTS

    • The fact the Falklands have a population of a few thousand and have 4 Typhoons, and NZ has a population of 4.5 million with no active fighters whatsoever is just inviting national embarrassment should anything ever occur.

  1. In a period following Russia managing to invade eastern Ukraine without aparently NATO managing to spot the move in advance, and so not being able to move equipment into position (not that NATO would have, even if it had known), we should be sending a lot more than 4 jets just to demonstrate committment to Eastern europe.

    • The Falklands best defence is the fact that Argentina basically have no Air Force or Navy to speak of.

    • Quite agree that we need more ships, but there isn’t much point having any in the Falklands as the Argies don’t have an operational navy or air force any more.

    • Im not sure it is required at this stage. I don’t really see it as an pre-1982 issue, where we were woefully under prepared and took the Argentine invasion threat with huge dollops of salt.

      We know more about the Argentine Military capabilities, we are far more prepared from an enemy task force, and whilst it would be nice to have a destroyer/frigate on hand, i do believe the force there could repel an initial invasion task force.

      But in truth, Argentina have a majorly diminished armed forces than ever before in fairness.

      • I don’t think there is any risk of a second invasion, considering the new Argentine government, but I suspect that the belief in the defensive abilities might be poorly placed.

        As it stands, the only defensive asset we have there that could stop a ship based task attack, is HMS Cyde (the typhoons have no anti-ship weapons), which is very lightly armed and I suspect could be dealt with relatively easily.

        At which point the amphibious assault starts and the land assets come into play, which we have 150 infantry soliders in place. Any serious assault on the island is likely to feign attack from another landing point to pull assets away from the main attack and 150 troops isn’t a lot to spread. Ok we have the typhoons with ground attack abilities, which would help balance the numbers a little.

        Once on the island, we could probably defend mount pleasant for a while, by falling back to it, but at which point Argentina would be free to place anti-air assets around the base to stop our ability to resupply it and the islands would be taken.

        I don’t think there is a risk, but the idea that the poor state of Argentina’s air and ship force would prevent an attack, appears to be weak.

        I guess the other part of the defensive equation is the ability for the attacker to defend the island, once taken. At which point it is role reversal, Aregentina has nothing to stop our Navy task force as they have a weak navy.

        The doubt that they could place enough ground assets to resist the landing force (without air or sea power), probably would make the initial attack less likely.

        Completely hypothetical but interest.

    • With aircraft and ground based missiles permanently based there we are well covered against air threat from an ageing and almost entirely un-airworthy Argentinian airforce. There is now a significant contingent of troops to fight off any landing so that leaves sea threat, again from an ageing and badly maintained enemy force.

      A destroyer or frigate would be nice but who is to say the Falkalands aren’t a lot better protected from sea threat than we think at the moment. Maybe there is an SSN in the area which is a far more potent anti-ship asset than anything else in the RN.

      • The mear potential of a SSN is probably a pretty significant defensive asset, even if its not actually in place (i think considering the small size of our navy that the chances of it being in the area is low), since one SSN could sink most of the landing force and Argentina has nothing to counter it.

        • Completely agree with your 2 points. Mere possibility of SSN is a deterrent but, due to only 7 in fleet, in reality probably nothing actually on station.

          Then again, one thing that makes SSN such a different beast to non-nuclear sub is how long it can keep up a sprint to get somewhere and be below the weather the whole way. I bet that GCHQ and MI6 have intense electronic surveillance and human contacts monitoring all sorts of key points (supply orders, personal recalls, truck movements, change to maintenance schedules etc) that might indicate an imminent invasion. I suspect we might have enough warning for a sub most places in the Atlantic to get on station in time to be there when it matters.

          SSN can also launch Tomahawk of course so any invasion where Argentina installs ground-based air defences could still be subject to attack in the first 24 or 48 hours of occupation. I suspect any SAS/SBS there quite possibly have combat orders of “run and hide” in case of an invasion so that they remain uncaptured to do spotting and/or sabotage.

  2. I supect one manpad anti-air launcher would stop any reinforcement. There would be huge policitical embarressment if the defenses failed and the loss of a transport plane full of troops would make scare the policticans into inaction.

    But as stated, it would require some clever planning for Argentina to be able to move enough assets into position to launch an assault, without us spotting it and sending a SSN. We wouldn’t send additional troops, until it is too late, because policitans would be scared that they had misread the situation and the extra troops would upsetting the region.

  3. I am also curious where our Typhoons are and why we did not using them as a show of force.

    Russia keeps testing our defenses and we should be in our right to provide an equal defensive reaction, and yet say when 10 russian jets were flying in the baltic area, we managed to launch 2 typhoons in reaction. Same when their bombers test our own defenses.

    The Russian long range bombers are not that fast and so we should have plenty of time to get planes into the sky to mirror them, from our side of the border.

    We are meant to have over 100 typhoons, so why do we seem incapable of getting more than a dozen in the air (around 6 bombing syria, 6-10 in the QRA and 3 in falklands, at anyone time, globally.

    Ok the threat to eastern europe has now reduced, but it seemed strange that during the Ukraine crisis that we still didn’t put more jets into the mix to show our solidality to our NATO cousins.

    • Sadly we are pretty cash-strapped. Every response puts hours on the airframes so I suspect the RAF can ill afford a 1-for-1 show of force. Also, I wonder if we have the same issues with availability of spare parts that the Germans are having with their Tornados which apparently had less that 50% availability as of Dec last year (29 of 66 airworthy – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34983396)

  4. I would hope spare parts for the typhoon won’t be an issue for many years, since they are still being built and so i would reason parts should be pretty easy to get hold of.

    • Yes but it’s not just about availability, it’s about allocating money to spares. Then there’s also the issue of having sufficient trained maintenance technicians against the backdrop of all the chatter about our “hollowed out” armed forces. In fairness I’ve seen that said most about the Navy being about 3,000 short and recent reports of a destroyer and frigate laid up partly due to personel shortages.

      For politicians it’s all to easy to allocate money to shiny new stuff and get some of the cash by quietly cutting back the logistics and supply operations during “peace” time (where “peace” is pretty much anything short of an invasion of the U.K. or WW3).

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