The Irish Government is considering the purchase of military jet aircraft that would have the capacity to intercept high-altitude aircraft and fully police Irish skies, according to local media.

A new five-year Defence Forces investment strategy document has said that “future projects at a pre-planning stage” include the potential for “air combat interceptors”.

The Irish Times also say that a programme of this kind would likely cost well in excess of €1 billion.

Ireland currently lacks aircraft that can climb high enough or go fast enough to intercept Russian aircraft.

The specific section of the ‘Equipment Development Plan 2020-24’ document ‘Future programmes at pre planning stage’ states:

Beyond the very significant range of projects already underway or in existing planning streams, the EDP highlights others that are expected to progress in future phases of the plan. This is not an exhaustive list but gives an indication of the scale and range of programmes that will enter planning. At this stage there is not a definite commitment to pursue, or an associated time-frame, for these.

These include a primary radar system, air combat interceptor, replacement of the two Coastal Patrol vessels, acquisition of diver based mine counter-measures and counter improvised explosive device equipment, field catering equipment, various vehicles such as replacement mini-buses, military trailers and an armoured ambulance as well as various surveillance and explosive ordnance disposal equipment.

A number of weapon systems are also earmarked in this category of pre-planning such as upgrade of the 105mm light artillery gun, the 60mm mortar, under-barrel Grenade Launcher M203 Replacement, RBS 70 MANPAD replacement Programme, Steyr Rifle – Mod 14 Upgrade – Under Barrel Rail and Foregrip.”

An Irish Defence Forces spokesman said:

“Such a capability is being kept under review, and is based on threat assessment, but budget has not been allocated for this at this time. Such an aircraft would be capable of policing all airborne craft in Irish sovereign airspace, particularly those that are fast moving.”

A spokeswoman for the Irish Department of Defence said:

“The assessment would consider the demands that may be made of such interceptors and the military capabilities it would be expected to be able to supply, together with the associated technical specification and capability requirements. This utility would have to be assessed against the significant investment of public funds, in respect of the initial investment and ongoing operational costs.”

What happens now?

As said above, Ireland lacks aircraft that can climb high enough or go fast enough to intercept Russian aircraft. As a result, Ireland and the UK have an agreement to allow British combat aircraft to overfly the Republic.

The UK isn’t simply protecting Irish airspace as such, the agreement is mutually beneficial but more about that later.

Over the last decade Russian bombers have flown a series of provocative missions close to Ireland’s northern and western coasts – on occasion skirting extremely close to Irish airspace. A particularly noteworthy incident occurred in 2015. Two Tu-95 bombers flew with their transponders turned off, just 40km off the coast.

According to local media, they criss-crossed into major civilian airline traffic lanes and the IAA was forced to divert commercial jets in midair or else prevent them from taking off to avoid potential collisions. Another similar incident occurred earlier in the year.

Many are likely to ask why Russia would aim to provoke Ireland?

According to Dr Edward Burke, the director of the Centre for Conflict, Security and Terrorism at the University of Nottingham:

“The principal reason is that, from a Russian perspective, Ireland is a significant piece on the geopolitical chessboard. Situated between two of Russia’s principal adversaries, the United States and the UK, Ireland lacks the air defence capabilities to deter or defend against such provocative sorties into its airspace. The Russian air force knows that it can approach or even enter Irish airspace with far less immediate and serious consequences than if it did the same to other north Atlantic countries such as Iceland where there is a Nato air policing mission – or Norway, which has a well-resourced air force capable of quickly intercepting suspected incursions.”

Why do the UK and Ireland have this agreement?

According to the Irish Examiner, “five well-placed sources in Ireland and one in Britain have pointed to the agreement being in place, with a number saying the Defence Forces was not involved in negotiating it, despite the RAF asking for its inclusion.”

It is understood that Civil servants from the Irish Department of Defence and Department of Foreign Affairs with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) entered into a bilateral agreement with British counterparts: the RAF, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Defence, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The agreement reportedly permits the British military to conduct operations over Ireland in order to intercept aircraft in the Flight Information Region shared by both nations.

All airspace around the world is divided into Flight Information Regions (FIRs). Each FIR is managed by a controlling authority (in this case the UK) that has responsibility for ensuring that air traffic services are provided to the aircraft flying within it. UK Airspace is divided into three FIRs; London, Scottish and Shanwick Oceanic.

Ireland operates ‘The Air Corps’ who fly a fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft (but no jet aircraft), it provides military support to the Irish Army and Naval Service.

Their only combat capable aircraft is the Pilatus PC-9M which can be armed with a heavy machine gun or rocket pods. This aircraft is not capable of intercepting Russian bombers.

Make no mistake however, this agreement is mutually beneficial. The UK needs to be able to intercept aircraft even as far south west as Ireland. Why?

Andy Netherwood explains the reasons why here, but in summary:

“The first is flight safety. Whilst sovereign airspace only extends 12 miles from the coastline, countries are responsible for ensuring the safety of civil aviation, including the provision of ATC services, within areas known as Flight Information Regions or FIRs. These extend well beyond the 12-mile limit. Russian long range aviation often transits the London and Scottish FIRs without filing a flight plan, talking to ATC or ‘squawking’ (operating their transponders).  This makes them effectively invisible to civilian ATC and is very dangerous as airliners are also flying through this airspace.  By shadowing Russian aircraft, the intercepting aircraft can show ATC where they are, allowing controllers to move airliners safely out of the way.

The second reason is because of the speed at which aircraft travel.  An aircraft flying at 600 knots will travel 12 miles in little over a minute.  Waiting until an unknown or hostile aircraft has entered sovereign airspace before intercepting is too late. It leaves insufficient time to safely carry out the intercept, visually identify the aircraft, provide all the required information back to decision-makers, and carry out any necessary action. Russian aircraft will normally be intercepted by the Norwegian Air Force and then handed over to RAF aircraft ensuring they are continually shadowed.”

This isn’t as straightforward as it seems however, the agreement is somewhat controversial.

Senator Gerard Craughwell told the Seanad that allowing Royal Air Force fighter jets access to Irish airspace interferes with Ireland’s sovereignty.

“The Constitution is the most sacred document in the country. It drives everything we do and should control everything that takes place in this House. I refer to Article 15.6 on the right to raise and maintain military forces, which right rests exclusively with the Oireachtas. Imagine my shock at the weekend when I discovered that an agreement had been signed between this country and the United Kingdom granting permission to the United Kingdom to scramble fighter jets in Irish airspace.

The agreement was signed by the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Irish Aviation Authority, which is not even a body responsible to the Oireachtas but a semi-State body. The agreement was signed before either this or the last Government came to power. I can find no evidence anywhere of Oireachtas oversight of the agreement or of a ministerial signature on it.

It creates a merger or a partnership in respect of our sovereignty. We talk about our sovereignty all the time, yet we are allowing jets of the Royal Air Force, RAF, to fly over the country. The director of Irish military aviation and the general officer commanding, GOC, of the Air Corps has no knowledge whatsoever of the agreement. It is my understanding that when he learned of it, he was taken into a room, shown the agreement and promptly sent home without a copy of it. The person with responsibility for military aviation in this country was not a party to the agreement.”

Is this agreement likely to change?

According to Dr Burke, Ireland (at least in the short term) will continue to rely upon the RAF to deter and monitor Russian or other aircraft that enter Irish airspace without permission.

“In the short term, Ireland will continue to rely upon the RAF to deter and monitor Russian or other aircraft that enter Irish airspace without permission”, he said.

“In the medium to long term it is difficult to countenance the State developing the expensive air defence and training systems to police Irish airspace alone. Ireland’s natural security partner in terms of geography is of course the UK. Is it possible that historical and political sensitivities might be overcome to bring about an RAF-Irish Air Corps all-island joint air policing mission in the future? For now, as the Russian Air Force could tell you, there is very little prospect of anything of the kind.”

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T.S

Gripen?

Mark

If it was something that was going to happen, I could that as being the most likely option, but not a chance in hell of it happening.

Lee1

It is not going to happen. This is not just about purchasing a few jets as they will also need to hire and train the crews, build hangers, build maintenance facilities, train maintenance crews and build early warning radar sites and obviously train the operators. It is a huge undertaking and I just don’t think they will go for it when they can simply ask the UK to do the Job for them and the UK is happy enough to do it.

maurice10

In theory, all nations have the right to defend themselves and, Ireland should not be perceived as not requiring an independent airforce. The purchase of aircraft is the easy bit, the total infrastructure cost would be huge and possibly viewed by the Irish people as too expensive, for such a small, token force? Maybe, they could pay the UK Government to provide a more robust air defence package, including the stationing of RAF planes and personnel. Or just leave matters as they are, and spend the money elsewhere?

lee1

Leaving the situation as it is currently is the best solution. I never said they did not have the right to defend themselves, just that it is probably a pointless project to spend money on. Given that they have no interests to protect around the world and their position means that they are always going to be protected by the UK.

maurice10

Lee1, I wasn’t insinuating that you were questioning their right to self-protection, if it came over like that, I apologise.

Cam

How about we get the RAF back to Ireland with jets and even a squadron or three p8s.

Mark

Technically the RAF has never been in Ireland at all, it was the RFC and RNAS that were there before 1922. Though interestingly enough the Irish delegation were open to the UK basing in the Treaty talks but the UK was more focused on Naval matters.

But no, basing RAF units in the Republic is a nonstarter.

Christopher Allen

I suspect many Irish folk wouldn’t be too open to an RAF base in the Republic either.

Considering they opposed the idea of the British Army helping to deliver aid supplies throughout NI in the current covid crisis, I suspect everyone in Sinn Fein would develop an aneurysm the second such a base was announced

Andy P

You know they’re two separate countries aye ?

Steve

They are separate countries, but we have bases in multiple other countries and the US has bases in the UK. When interests are aligned and there is a will it can happen. I suspect if it was needed to defend Ireland, then a deal could be done to let it happen (but it would have happened in the cold war era, when it was more needed than today), but as bases in the UK can happily cover Ireland it was never needed. Realistically Ireland knows its are pretty darn safe from invasion, as any attack would need to go through… Read more »

Mark

As mentioned there’s the Hard Left wing that foam at the mouth with even US troops passing through Shannon, basing any foreign forces here would be a nightmare.

And as pointed out, you do get that NI isn’t part of the Republic, the UK media/public gave that stance more attention than the average person in Ireland, if they even knew about it at all.

AndyCee

Assume this is part of an EU initiative to become more militarily independent?

How will they find the cash, train the crews, build the infrastructure, maintain the planes?

Remember what happened with Austria and the Typhoons. They couldn’t afford to keep them running. Can’t see Ireland doing this without massive subsidy from EU or maybe direct from France or Germany?

Mark

25 years ago the Republic spent over 1% of a much smaller GDP on defence without major issues domestically. If their was political will to spend then we could over a period of time build up to support them without much difficulty, given how low the spending is now.

Andrew

Don’t see this happening….

Ireland doesn’t have any experience or infrastructure to support fast combat jets…

Is it willing to invest who knows how many billions to develop and sustain a credible fast jet fleet, to replace something that it’s getting done effectively for free?

Cam

Well they don’t seem very happy with the UK overflying their airspace when needed! Maybe we should just leave them to protect themselves. And if other nations comparable to Ireland can afford fast jets then so can ireland, I’m pretty sure the UK would train and supply them with everything they need, just like we do with their navys patrol boats.

Mark

Nobody outside of a crank in the Seanad gives a feck about the RAF responses. And if the UK wanted to end the agreement, sure why not. And the UK built the P50/60’s you had nothing to do with training or supplies, and chances are the UK won’t be building the MRV whenever it comes.

Given the costs for the Typhoons I can’t see how or why they would be selected for this theoretical fighter selection.

HF

A few people, wrapping themselves in the flag (or constitution ) may moan but most people acknowledge the situation, if they know, as necessary. As for teh Irish AOC ‘not knowing’ of the agreement, it sounds like a load of cobblers.

Mark

Not really “cobblers” if you understand the utterly toxic relationship between the Defence Forces and the DOD, it’s pretty much standard for the DOD to do whatever it wants without engaging with the DF.

HF

I wasn’t doubting that he had no formal knowledge of it, but he would know it exists and be aware of any RAF flights under it. Still, as you graphically say, not a good relationship.

Mark

Oh the AC knows about the deal, the point was they weren’t in the room during the negotiations about it, they just got told after the fact “this is what we the DOD have decided”.

Right now there’s a bit of a “do” on due to the Taoiseach going around the DOD to ask the COS about the value of acquiring some heavier transport for Troop rotation, the DOD is “unhappy”, they’ve spent 25 years trying to stop that.

Rob

How many aircraft do they need? 2 on standby, 2 reserve standby, 4 in maintenance, maybe 4 training and a couple in stock. So 14 to 20 fast jets, with training, infrastructure and weapons – £1 billion, I doubt it. They’d obviously go for something off the shelf and cheap, modernised F16 or Gripen. Another option, which they won’t do because they are obviously desiring to stop depending on the non EU UK, would be to form a joint RAF / Rep AF squadron operating Typhoon. We could buy 12 extra airframes with the Irish and they could save by… Read more »

Fedaykin

There is no way Ireland would run a joint Squadron with the RAF it is way to politically sensitive for any Irish Government to partnership so closely with the British Armed forces.

It will have to be an off the shelf purchase and my personal choice would be the KAI FA-50 as best fit for Irelands needs.

julian1

perhaps, but haven’t we all moved on? I notice there was an article on UKDJ about the Irish navy training with RN OPV so there is some collaboration. What I meant about the “joint” (your words) squadron was the RAF supporting the standing up of the Irish squadron like we are for Qatar with 12 SQN (not Oman as I said.) It would be an interim solution to make life easier for the Irish and to allow the RAF to stand up their rumoured 8th front-line Typhoon squadron. Just a thought….we could train Irish pilots ab initio or perhaps they… Read more »

Fedaykin

Some rare training with the Irish Navy does not equate a close defence relationship. Politically it would be totally unexceptable for many in the Republic to form a joint organisation with any part of the UK armed forces. Ireland is a distinctly different nation culturally and sees itself far closer the EU than the UK these days. A joint Squadron would be a total non-starter. I have good decent friends in the Republic of Ireland who would rather crawl naked over stinging nettles and barbed wire then take a bath in TCP then have anything to do with the British… Read more »

Mark

Actually it’s not that rare, there’s usually some degree of small joint training going on for course work and the like (not to mention SF training, where we’ve even had US Seals training in Ireland) but yeah nothing like a joint squadron.

If it were to be anything “Joint” in this theoretical development, I think the more likely option might with Sweden and their air force tbh if we were going with Gripen.

Joe16

Funnily enough, I think we have closer and more active collaboration with the French military than we do the Irish…

Mark

Given the history between Ireland and the UK, pretty much in the 20th century yeah, the UK is closer to the French.

Cam

Well we are comparable to the French In Millitary terms, And we should work with the frogs more often. Lancaster house agreement state’s we will do so, and even have a joint expeditionary force for war fighting in future.

HF

NATO and a lot more gear to co-operate with.

SoleSurvivor

It was also unacceptable for many in Ireland to have the Queen as an official guest of the country, but they still did it The current agreement with the British armed forces are also unacceptable for many, but it’s happening The Irish political establishment are very, if not more corrupt and self serving than the British political establishment and that’s saying something, they will do what they think is best and affordable And most of the Irish don’t give a s**t about the past these days, certainly not enough in the manner you suggest, I have family there and barring… Read more »

John Clark

Interesting post Sole. There are those who would love to see the divide between our countries continue… Truth is, I concur with Sole, my wife has Irish relatives and they don’t have any particular axe to grind, ironically, they have far more in common with us, than the people in Northern Ireland, who seem to love winding each other up! I think some small elements in the Republic have a vested interest in keeping the anti British resentment going (and go to some length to keep the embers of hatred alive), largely playing to deaf ears, my personal experience of… Read more »

Herodotus

‘Culturally, two of their most watched tv programs every year are I’m a celebrity and coronation street, we’re closer than you think’
God help Irish culture is all I can say!!!!

HF

Not sure if that counts a culture….

Gavin Gordon

Only been to Ireland once and that on vacation for a week, so no real knowledge. That said, never got a snifter of the slightest tension. But I suppose the same could be said for any country we as a family have visited, whether in Europe or anywhere else.
Long since gained the impression that it’s just the political class in each country that have an issue, not the populace.

Mark

Nope, it depends on the situation but there’s still negative views out there, and certainly anything like a UK base/force in the Republic would raise hell.

Cam

Well we do build their OPVS, and even their Old boats are ex Hong Kong patrol boats, they are the largest ships they have, so we obviously have big defence relations with Ireland…

Mark

The Peacocks were selected because they were dirt cheap and the Eithne Project came apart. And no the UK doesn’t really have “big” defence relations with Ireland

HF

As I’ve posted before speaking to some Air Corps pilots at an air show they spoke about the very close co-operation with the RAF.

Cam

We built their new opvs.

Mark

Sure you did, because Babcock basically gave us a price nobody else could match to keep Appledore open.

Rob

Get that. You know the KAI FA-50 is just a weaponised trainer. Maybe we could flog a newly improved BAe Hawk 200+. Build some of it in Belfast too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Aerospace_Hawk_200

Fedaykin

Yes it is but a very good one, it has a decent Radar, cheap operating costs and is Supersonic. Looks to be ideal to me. The BAe Hawk 200 is long out of production and subsonic making it less than ideal imho.

Rob

Best option for the Rep would be to get a complete wing of F15s courtesy of the USAF by undercutting the Brits and get a US fighter wing at Shannon & Dublin. The USAF are looking for cheaper options already….?

Mark

Not going to happen, I’m sure the USN would remind the USAF what happened back in the 00’s when a PANA twat took an axe to the landing gear of one of their transports.

Andrew

Rob,

Ireland is a non aligned neutral country outwith NATO….

Meirion X

So by burying your head in the sand, Irish Peace necks think the Republic of I. will be safe?

Mark

Irish Peace Necks and thinking don’t go together, ever.

Meirion X

Are the left and Irish SWP making a noise about, Mark?

Mark

Currently their major issue as it has been for years is the US troops transiting through Shannon, pain in the arse.

Meirion X

Agreed Mark!

Cam

Politically sensitive? You do know there’s thousands of Republic Irish Serving in the British Army, RAF and Royal Navy, can’t be that sensitive helping Ireland gain Their own fighter squadron, then the UK Won’t need to over fly all the time and get moaned at for doing so….

Mark

And I know a few who go out of their way to make sure nobody outside their family knows they serve because it’s still “sensitive”, nor would that affect any build up of Irish defence spending.

As for the moaning, FFS, are you going to suggest there aren’t any cranks in the House of Lords that speak shite? The Seanad is the dumping ground of Irish politics, it’s a non story from that angle.

Cam

The Moaning works both ways and won’t stop anytime soon.

lee1

My Great uncle is Irish yet has an OBE for service in the RAF.

Mark

Didn’t deny that there are/were Irish serving in the UK Forces, just pointed out depending on the timing plenty of them go out of their way to not advertise that and some have been targeted by dissidents.

Pretty much any Irish family has a good chance of having relatives who served in UK forces over the last century.

Gunbuster

On one of my previous drafts one of the OPS Dept Chiefs who had Codeword clearance and access to UK Eyes only and 5 EYES data was suddenly found to be the holder of a Republic Passport. Nobody previously cared. He certainly didnt.
He had never been back to ROI since his parents moved to the UK when he was 2.
I think it took something less than a week for him to miraculously become a UK Citizen with a passport.

Andy P

Don’t know how far back you’re going with this Gunbuster but we had quite an issue about 15 years ago. As a comms department on an SSN we were all DV’d up the ying yang, as it turned out 4 of us were dual nats, myself and one other were both born in Australia but left young, one was a Kiwi with Brit parents but came over here to join up and one was from Barbados. It was on the back of 9/11 and the Yanks getting nippy about it. We were all asked if we’d relinquish our ‘other’ passport… Read more »

julian1

Gripen may be the value option, but I wonder if 2nd hand T1 Typhoon may be an easier option, albeit with higher operating costs. Quickly available, proven in role and probably cheap to acquire. The Irish could also piggy-back on training/spares with other European nations. They would only need a small number like 12 with a single air policing role. They could even stand up a squadron in the same way the RAF are supporting the Omani Typhoon capability

Fedaykin

VERY expensive to operate. Typhoon would be a very bad choice unless somebody else wanted to pay for it!

Austria learnt that the hard way, they were given an offer price wise hard to refuse but it is basically beyond their means to sustain!

Joe16

I have to admit, I’d thought we could maybe offload some of our T1s to them; they could benefit from our supply chain, training and maybe deep maintenance (not for free, obviously, but that they’re close enough that they may as well be in the same country).
But I hadn’t really considered the operational costs, why are they so high? Jane’s seems to imply that it’s purely down to being a twin engine design, but that can’t be all can it?

Mark

Honestly something like the Typhoons would be an utter self inflicted wound for the AC, they would be grounded more than flying, while exposing the AC/DF with plenty of political point scoring.

Joe16

Fair point, well made!

Fedaykin

Looking at this there are three logical choices:

1) Used Lockheed Martin F-16
2) Used SAAB Gripen C/D
3) New build KAI FA-50

Out of those three I would say the KAI FA-50 is the most logical choice, it will be new build giving a lengthy life but is affordable and is more then capable of acting as a Point Defence Interceptor in QRA. They won’t need a BVR capability so AIM-9M off the shelf is more then adequate.

They can farm out type conversion to South Korea.

dan

They haven’t said anything about the range/loadout a fighter would need so no way to tell which fighter would be best now.

Fedaykin

Noted, but to be realistic they would need something that is capable of going Supersonic but don’t need BVR. Imho the KAI FA-50 is the best fit.

JohnHartley

I wonder if the Italian M346, would suit Eire? A radar & AAM equipped version should fit the bill. They could buy 7, so no more than their existing Pilatus. If they buy EU made, then perhaps they can tap ECB covid recovery funds/soft loans? It would only be a token force, but could do simple peacetime air policing roles.

Fedaykin

I did put some consideration to the M346 and it would be an option but whilst the do market a Fighter variant the proposed Radar the Grifo-346 has yet to be integrated and there would be a cost getting the type into a suitable configuration. The KAI FA-50 on the other hand does have a radar integrated the Elta EL/M-2032 and the fighter variant is in service with the Philippines. To be honest this is all academic, I am highly sceptical that Ireland will actually end up with a Fast Jet QRA capability. It is only being proposed due to… Read more »

Fedaykin

Also it should be noted that like the Hawk 200 the M346 lacks afterburners and is a transonic type only. The KAI FA-50 has an afterburning GE F404 and is a Supersonic type, a vital capability if you want to actually perform an intercept on a high flying aircraft approaching your airspace. It also has an internal 20mm gun which is very useful for warning shots etc.

Mark

You do get that it was in the White Paper from 5 years ago right? No connection at all to any press coverage. Also some posters read far too much into that, it’s a non story for the Irish public.

Glass Half Full

F-16 for my money … or rather theirs, however unlikely any purchase actually is. So many potentially available used, plenty of spares available, known quantity operating costs so no surprises there and with new variants being sold the used market isn’t going to dry up for a long time, added to which the Irish wouldn’t be stacking on flying hours anyway. They could probably get a good deal on used from the US, perhaps even F-16C, but if not then plenty of F-16s from Euro air forces upgrading to F-35.

Ron

Speaking about the RoI possible investment plans, has anyone seen what Aus is up to, a £135 billion investment into the armed forces over the next ten years for new kit. Can we have some of that please.

Reaper

They’re serious about it aren’t they. This government hasn’t cottoned on to the fact that power projection = security and prosperity. Bunch of clown shoes are our politicians but more fool us for letting them crack on for decades

HF

Saw that – they’re also cosying up to India. I’m sure you can guess why.

Airborne

Not going to happen, as the new coalition Government would never agree! Fianna Fáil, bit like our Lib Dems (read the days headline and make a policy to buy votes with it) and the Greens would chin it off. With Shit Féin in the wings waiting to pounce, the coalition would not do anything to risk it’s power base! Plus when they put a tender out to buy Fet Jighters, no fucker will know what they are on about!

BB85

Yeah the Greens (who hold the balance of power) would never support €1bn on fighter jets. Ireland has too many left wing spending priorities that trump jets. Once all of the Brexit BS dies down the two governments actually have a very good relationship and they will extend the status quo as it is significantly cheaper if not free for Ireland. The money earmarked for defence could be better spent on equipment MRV’s and kit for Irish soldiers when on peace keeping missions.

Mark

The MRV is already factored into the Capital Plan (but Christ is it unlucky project, each time it gets to sign off we have a global crash), as are the Upgrades to the Mowags and the like. The Equipment plan does have some bits and pieces, upgrades to the Steyr’s the Navies secondary mounts, the short range radar systems.

But yeah you’d need a compelling reason to commit to the spend needed to build up Jets and the Radar systems and the rest, and most likely end up having to move the AC out of Dublin.

dan

Won’t they have to get the OK from the EU first? lol

Fedaykin

No, contrary to what the Brexit-loons believe the 27 members of the EU are Sovereign nations that have their own individual defence policy.

Mark

Why?

HF

If you want I can post a link that shows how the Tories under Cameron suppressed a 2015 report from the House Of Lords that showed how little the EU interfered in internal UK legislation and affairs. I’d like to see the report about Russian interference in the referendum and elections but for some reason it’s being sat on as well.

dan

Just do like the Germans do. Let others shoulder the majority of the load to protect your country. Isn’t that what the Brits’ are doing now with Ireland?

Mark

Well you could argue if the UK in 1922 wasn’t so explicitly for the limitations of the Free States military capability the attitudes of the DOD may not have developed and the DF would be a different animal.

Bob2

Dan,

Apart from the US (who protect all of NATO), which countries shoulder the majority of the load to protect Germany?

Mark

Some realistic views on this, basically the media running with a non story. The new Equipment Plan is based on the last WP, in which under the “future maybe nice” section had a small bit regarding looking at fighters. Due to that when making this up, the DOD stuck a one liner in, please not the ” At this stage there is not a definite commitment to pursue, or an associated time-frame, for these. ” line in the document.

There are some nice bits in it for the DF, but jets aren’t likely to see any Irish orders.

Mark

And realistically the Capital budget is already over committed.

Cam

Let’s just sell them some of our older RAF typhoons… Then we can build a couple dozen new Tranche aircraft, would work out great for both nations.

Mark

Apart from bankrupting the DF with older model Typhoons…Sure great.

Cam

Would hawks do them? I’m sure we have plenty old spare Hawks.

Mark

No use if the idea is to do patrols off the West Coast.

David

Clapped out 40 year old advanced trainers with no radar? No…..

Meirion X

NO! Hawks are subsonic.

Geoffrey Roach

I can just picture Sinn Fein members standing to applaud the idea of an Anglo/Irish fighter Squadron. The air would turn blue..eh…green.

Harry Bulpit

Not going to happen. The Irish air corps is simply to small to sustain a fighter force regardless of type. One of their pilots doubles up as a a PR manager, and you think they’ll have enough personal to not only fly but also service a squadron of fast jets.

Mark

Any such theoretical acquisition would be and end result of sustained increases in Defence Spending, not just dropped on the current force/budget structure.

Harry Bulpit

Obviously it would need additional funding. But what I mean is as opposed to say the RAF who can just build a new hanger and buy some P8 the Irish couldn’t do that with a new combat aircraft. They have no experience at operating fast jets and have no exchange programs. Therefore it would take at least a decade to just implement the support structure including a sustainable base, hangers, weapon storage, radar and aircraft control before an aircraft type selecting can even begin. That would almost double the forces man power without even considering the ground crew and pilots.… Read more »

HF

Probably not got the cash but they could try hiring ex-service pilots like the Saudis do.

Jonny

Agreement or not, the U.K should be able to cross over Ireland’s airspace to keep Russia in check. Russia doesn’t care about ireland, it cares about the U.k. We need to protect our own country and the only feasible way of doing that is by crossing into Irish airspace. What are they gonna do, throw potatoes at us?

Mark

And if you were to do so, you’d be no different than Russia itself unless you had permission from the Republic. That’s kind of how international relations work. And given the RAF has never crossed Irish airspace without permission for an intercept the UK knows that.

HF

Ah, but that’s the Trump mode of foreign ‘policy’.

Andy P

I hope you typed this after a good skin full Jonny, anything else is just embarrassing.

Ryan Brewis

Is this really worth Ireland’s time? Anyone more knowledgeable please correct me if I’m wrong but it’s not just the fighters themselves, they’d need some spare to train on, as replacements in the case of any sad losses, proper storage for the aircraft and weapons, trained groundcrew, advanced trainers, the pilots themselves, running costs and gods know what else. I get the sovereignty issue but what’s the alternative? Fast jet air forces are really bloody expensive from everything I’ve read on it and it would probably be cheaper giving the MoD a bit of cash as a courtesy for the… Read more »

Lordtemplar

Pipe dream , nothing more. A billion is not going to be close to enough to launch an air force from scratch, which requires building an infrastructure, aircraft, weapons, parts, maintenance, training pilots and crews.

geoff

Coming to this discussion late and most has bn said already but two things. A lend-lease type of arrangement with a Flight of 4 Typhoons as in Mount Pleasant Falklands should suffice. Training Irish pilots with the RAF, and Irish insignia as per the not-so-badly photoshopped pic above should do it at a much more affordable and everbody win situation. If the RN can train with US aircraft on the deck of the QE then surely the ROI could handle what is basically a similar arrangement. On a personal and professional level it is widely reported that the Irish Air… Read more »

geoff

Secondly-about time NZ also acquired some of its own fast jets or entered into an arrangement with the RAAF, the latter being more likely and certainly easier to arrange

Andrew

There is no credible air threat to New Zealand…. why do they need fast jets?

geoff

Because they are a wealthy First World nation and need to share the broader burden of Defence of the region shouldered almost entirely by Australia as the main south pacific power.

Andrew

Why would they invest in a fast jet capability…. who is their to intercept? Their is no credible hostile adversary…. the last hostile action taken against New Zealand was when the French blew up the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour…Anyway, it seems like half of New Zealand are in Australia contributing substantially to the economy.

You could say the same for Ireland…. they have next to nothing military wise and benefit from being surround by friendly military powers

geoff

We could go back and forth on this. The issue is not about now but a broad military threat that pervades the modrn world and an inherent duty that such a nation shouls recognise-not to sponge off their neighbours. Same really goes for Ireland-come to some reasonable arrangement to chip in properly.
Regards

BB85

It will be interesting to see of China sails aircraft carriers that far south and fly a few jets over NZs eez to make a point. In that case NZ might need something or at least do a deal with the RAAF to base interceptors there.

geoff

Exactly BB85.

David Flandry

At most, 8 used aircraft might be procured with EU help.

Fat Dave

Amazing to see the same old whinges about territorial infringements and even the experts don’t mention that one of the reasons to intercept is to provide a deterrence and a reaction to rogue aircraft, not just the Russians. It isn’t a secret. Its on YouTube with a Sky piece on the RAF role in countering another 9/11 type threat. Terrorists don’t just pick politically desirable targets, they pick vulnerable targets. Sinn Fein should know this. Ireland is highly unlikely to develop a FJ capability, when it can rely on the UK. Just as it relied on the British to provide… Read more »

HF

‘when Ireland was happy to stay neutral, apart from the occasional greetings card to Adolf’. You need to do a bit of research about how closely Ireland co-operated with the UK in ww2. Allowing overflights so that ASW planes in NI could get out to the Atlantic a bit quicker, quietly repatriating allied pilots while interning German ones and so on.

Mark

We didn’t rely on the UK for food supplies, mainly because it was energy supplies we needed and because the UK limited shipping to Ireland anyway. Instead Irish Shipping was set up and Irish hulls tried to make up the supply difference. And as mentioned perhaps check how active we were as a neutral power helping the Allies.

JohnHartley

Eire maintains close ties with France. They are both in the EU. Why not ask France to provide an air policing role, similar to the way NATO does that for Iceland & the Baltic States? 4 Rafale based in Eire should do it.
If Eire wants that air defence capability itself, then an armed, radar equipped, missile armed, high end trainer jet, is probably the cheapest way of providing it.

Steve

What’s the EU got to do with this, the EU is a trading block not a military block, at least not yet.

Ireland and the UK are both NATO members and its in our interest to keep providing the coverage and so we do it for free, if Ireland asked France to do it there would be a cost involved.

Irish politicians grumble about the UK being provided overfly rights, but i am sure outside the political posturing they are glad to have the knowledge that the safety net is there and it comes for free.

Andrew

Steve,

Ireland is not part of NATO….it is a neutral country

Ron

Steve, the Republic of Ireland is NOT a member of NATO.

Steve

Good point, forgot about that.

The point remains though, Ireland are more than happy to have the free defense from our typhoons. Its like farage, happy to take the EU pension/get EU citizenship, but at the same time complaint constantly or Connery and his independent Scotland views whilst living in the US.

Ron

Fair one

Mark

As I’ve pointed out before, it’s a non story in Irish politics outside of SF and a few cranks (and even SF are quiet enough about it), the UK isn’t under any obligation to continue the agreement but chooses to. If they didn’t perhaps things would change at some point but it is what it is.

Steve

Fair but SF is a major party in the coalition in ireland, so they are speaking out to their voters.

Mark

Ah, nope. SF are not in coalition, they are the main opposition party.

Meirion X

Ireland will Not ask France to provide air policing, because France is a member of NATO.
Unless Ireland wants to join NATO?

Mark

Why would membership of NATO prohibit asking France?

Waddi

The fighter bit could be done quite cheaply. There are a number of private Aggressor Squadron companies such as Draken International. Say 3 of their Atlas Cheetah’s with modern missiles would do the job nicely. Find a few ex-USAF Irish Americans wanting to retire back home?

http://www.drakenintl.com/catalog/aircraft-inventory

Fedaykin

Using a PMC for this kind of role would be politically and legally awkward. It has happened a few times in Africa but it was always in a legally hazy grey area where the jets were owned by the Country but operated by the PMC.

Phillip

Presumably, if this is a genuine thing, all they would need is something with reasonable performance and reasonable endurance that can carry a complement of weapons, which falls within the Irish defence budget.

geoff

Sopwith Camel?

David Flandry

Fairy Swordfish?

geoff

Haha David. but then again , the one that sunk the Bismarck!

HF

OMG, this is going to be a bumper topic !

Daniele Mandelli

With you on that HF. Was my first thought seeing it. Hilarious how an Irish topic gets so many posts and such high feelings?

The RAF agreement with them is beneficial to us all, so I don’t see the issue?

As for them having fast air, I believe it when I see it.

HF

Can’t disagree with any of that !

Gavin Gordon

The first question that came to mind was indeed why Russia would provoke Ireland of all countries. The ‘explanation’ is in fact nothing of the sort. One of the dumbest thing I’ve ‘Little RasPutin’ has come up with.

Meirion X

Ireland is the weak link for Russia to get into the UK.
A blind spot in the Eastern Atlantic!
Very little radar coverage etc.

Daniele Mandelli

Hmmmm, with the range of the radars at Benbecula and Portreath, I think they easily cover the entirety of the western approaches across the Irish Sea and most of Ireland on their own, so not sure if radar coverage is an issue M.

The ability to intercept could be though, and not necessarily Russian planes either. Thus this agreement should our Typhoons need to fly west directly over the Irish landmass.

john melling

For any aircraft to get to Ireland, your coming close to the UK borders?
We are talking about Russia here, who else ;P
So a squadron of the newest Bae Hawks would be ok.
As Typhoons from the UK would likely be QRA to back them up
Could RAF Aldergrove be used for QRA?

Don’t see the point in Ireland buying anything else

Mark

There’s not much point in buying Hawks, they can’t really do the job and will just be an own goal for the AC. As for using Aldergrove, wouldn’t that be more trouble and headaches than it’s worth for the UK?

BB85

The airbase location isn’t really an issue. The Russian aircraft will be tracked from Finland and Norway so the RAF will be ready to pick them up from the North of Scotland and follow them until they return to Norway. A bigger surprise would be a plane hi jacked over the Atlantic.

Jason Holmes

Pity they aren’t a part of NATO, they’d get free air policing like they are doing in the Baltic

Mark

Technically we get that anyway even without NATO.

Barry Larking

Why spend money when you can get it for free?

Billythefish

Never in a month of sundays will the Irish stump up for fast jets. Fake news if I ever heard it.

Mark

Not fake news, just someone who doesn’t know the DOD reading too much into a presser.

Uninformed Civvy Lurker

Surely it’s reciprocal as I’ve been watching Irish Air Corp aircraft regularly doing training flights over the U.K.
Last week the latest ISTAR PC-12 did a few sorties over a few days. Taking off from Dublin, a few approaches to Belfast, a few over Edinburgh, down to Luton, over time Cardiff and back to Dublin, for tea and medals.

Also a C-235 did a similar round trip last week.

To be honest the IAC seem to overfly UK airspace much more regularly than I’ve ever noticed an RAF aircraft enter into ROI airspace.

Mark

That’s not an ISTAR PC-12, all three of them are still stuck in the US though I think they have finished their fit out, that’s our emergency buy as the original owner cancelled the order and the maker offered it cheap, it’s just a transport version. It’s pretty much doing familiarisation flights/training flights/ or transfers of samples to German labs for Covid testing, that route you describe is a pretty common one for it since we bought it. As for the Casa, could be doing anything really, from transferring small numbers of Army personnel for UN/EU deployments to medical transfers… Read more »

Jonathan

I would imaging the UK government have some tranche 1 typhoons they could give away, with a bit of a training package. It would be a good investment from the UK point of view, for the cost of some redundant airframes The UK finally gets a more effective ally on the western approach’s.

Mark

If Austria couldn’t support the costs of the T1’s how the hell do you think the Republic could?

Jonathan

Because Austria had to buy its own air frames, I’m suggesting that the UK gift the airframes and training support to the republic.

Mark

The life time costs of the T1s were also a huge issue for Austria, unless you are suggesting the U.K. pick up the whole tab, it still ends up biting the DF.

Richard

Would buying low-hour second-hand Mirage or F-16s from other countries be a more likely option rather than buy new?
Acquired some F-16s from Belgium/Norway as their F-35s come onboard or Mirage 2000s from France.

Fedaykin

The pool of used F-16 is ever dwindling, they will also have a more limited life vs something new. That saying the advantage F-16 has when it comes to used examples is the well established upgrade and Airframe life extension programmes available. Mirage-2000 is surprisingly expensive as a used jet and the French Gov/Dassault haven’t had much success in selling on used examples. Brazil leased some for a while but gave them back once they had upgraded their F-5. Also it isn’t just a matter of buying the jets, it would require significant infrastructure upgrades within Ireland. Add to that… Read more »

Ian

I am reminded of Canada’s efforts to field nuclear powered attack submarines back in the 80s. Political obstacles were overcome to make it happen- until the Canadians came to realise how vast the support costs were, and the idea was dropped.

DC

If it ever happens, it will be either –
A. Korean FA-50’s or
B. Saab Gripens