A Shadow R1 (an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance aircraft) is now operating over the English Channel.

The Shadow R1 ISTAR aircraft is based on Beechcraft King Air 350CER aircraft and is an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance aircraft developed by Raytheon.

It is currently in operation with 14 Squadron.

This comes after a Royal Air Force A400M Atlas aircraft left RAF Brize Norton this morning to support Border Force operations in the English Channel, you can read more about that here.

As some pointed out, then Home Secretary Theresa May terminated a £4 million contract with aviation firm Cobham to provide an ‘eye in the sky’ over British waters in January 2016 despite warnings.

 

Earlier in the year, we reported that Elbit Systems had been selected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to conduct maritime demonstration flights in the UK using a number of its unmanned aerial surveillance systems.

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farouk
farouk
1 month ago

Ah somebody has realised that an A400 isn’t really the plane to carry out surveillance. The mind boggles at how somebody thought it was,

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

It’s mind boggling that someone thought the military was the solution for this problem in the first place. All this can possibly end up with, is the military helping immigrants make it across the channel, and in turn resulting in more attempting it as they know the military will be there to help them across.

I am all for preventing, poor immigrants that are fleeing from wars etc, dying needlessly in the channel, but can politicians/ newspapers get real and stop trying to make it sound like it will prevent them crossing.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

p.s. based on the response from the MOD that effectively stating the request for support was nuts, i suspect they just sent whatever plane they had available to be seen to be doing something to keep the politicians quiet.

DJ
DJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

There is always the Australian solution. Turn them back if close & safe enough, otherwise boat is impounded (usually destroyed), anyone regarded as crew is charged, the rest end up in a detention centre complete with razor wire. There you stay until another country agrees to take you or you agree to go back home (home being the country you are a citizen of, not the country you just left). Some have been there for years. No more boats though.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  DJ

I am not sure how that sits with the Geneva convention, as each country are meant to accept refugees that apply for asylum and are running from being persecuted.

Destroying the boats at first glance is a good idea, but thinking about it a bit more and i realise that it wouldn’t help, all it would do would be to cause more theft of other boats and more slavery risk as the pricey raise.

Whilst the numbers are tiny vs the population of the country, i think what we are doing now is fine.

AP1960
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Didn’t realise there was a war in France

Herodotus
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

I wonder if there is not some existentialist concern for the A400 in RAF circles. Given the unexpected retention of more than half of the C130Js, perhaps the RAF want to accentuate the usefulness of the A400?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

It was only a temporary solution

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

That just raises the more concerning question, of why was there not a Shadow or other more effective assets available. I would think the P8 or Sentry or maybe the sentinal would also be better suited than a A400m.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

I think any of those assets are massive over kill for a dingy in the channel. This is a job for the coust guard, not the military.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Fully agree, its just political. Reality is there is no massive in surge of immigrants and we are probably spending more money on being seen to stop them (which is doing nothing in practice) than they would potentially cost, and that ignores that the farming industry is crying out for low wage employees.

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

It is Cheating, if migrants arrive here without going through the legal channels.
They could appy to work in the UK from France legally.

Liam
Liam
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

SERCO have a multi billion pound contract to house migrants. Hotels throughout the country have been taken over wholesale. At the moment the 4000 migrants landed this year receive cash of 40 a week, that’s about 16m a year. This is just the cash, not the costs of accommodation, medical care, food etc. Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the issue to suggest it has little cost is plain wrong.

Ron
Ron
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I tend to agree that this is a job for the coast guard, but the coast guard has no boats or for that matter helicopters. They seem to operate as a co-ordinator between Bristow, RNLI,RN and the Border Force. What the UK needs is a dedicated coast guard such as the US has. It could be started with combining the OPVs, Archers and Border Force cutters into a single unit. Give them law enforcement warrents and arm the boats. For example the Archers could have 0.50 cal GAU 19 gatling gun, the Border Force Cutters of which there is five… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron

I agree with including Batch 1 River OPVs in UKCG, But Not B2s, because they have a wider RN role in the littorals of world.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron

Why exactly do you think you’d need to up arm the patrol boats? No Government is going to order use of force against unarmed civilians.

Reaper
Reaper
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Because they support inter home office operations well above your need to know. They’re busy at times

George
George
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Hi folks hope all are well
Yes this matter just demonstrates the lack of forward planning in some government departments. This matter appears to be stepping up a pace or two. Many on this site have the expertise to see the issues that are very clear to most except some government Depts. Hopefully the MOD will claime back the costs.
Possible FOI request?
Cheers
George

Cymbeline
Cymbeline
1 month ago
Reply to  George

George, with you on that one, whilst most government depts will have strategic planning streams, what they really need is some military planners in there to help with this particular scenario, have a look at all the assests/manpower to come up with a viable plan. It does need for the French to play ball of course, but when you think we scratch their back in Mali they would scratch ours here.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago

It needs to be Over in french Airspace, warning of boats about to be launched and then intercepted seized, charged and sent packing, with back to their own safe country or claim assylum in France.

Crabfat
Crabfat
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

Looking at FlightRadar24, at present the Shadow (Snake47) seems to be flying round in circles over Norfolk. It was over the Channel earlier on, but mainly circling over Camber – looking out for illegal raves, perhaps?

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Crabfat

Can’t really have UK military assets operating in French airspace. Equally why should France take them in and we shouldn’t, its highly unlikely that France was the first safe country they went through.

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

It is France’s responsibility if migrants arrived from another safe country there!

Lordtemplar
Lordtemplar
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion X

No it isnt. There are no immigration check within the EU.
We do not live in facists societies and have laws that regulate stop and search policies.
It is the first place where they enter the EU that is responsible.

AV
AV
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

Sorry but do you really think a R1 needs to be in French aerospace to use its surveillance equipment?…Classified ranges but I’m pretty sure the electro-optical and IR kit could see well into France from Norfolk.
Furthermore this is an inspired use of kit. Detect the migrants at the French waters edge, notify the French of the location and tell them to pick them up. No boats, no free rides, no legal loopholes. The weakest link here will be the French but bet my bottom dollar that’s what’s being hammered out at the moment.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  AV

The Electo Optical should be able to see for many 10s of miles . So circling around mid channel would not be an issue. Dit on- Prior to the London Olympics HMS Bulwark moored at Greenwich to demonstrate what the Military Security contribution would be. We had a Sea King some 5+ miles away in cloud and out of sight using a THIM filming the ORC and RM teams doing assault drills for a demonstration. They passed the video via data link back to the ship. We then played the video back to the MP/VIPs as a surprise. More than… Read more »

AV
AV
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Had forgotten about Bulwark’s contribution to the security operation, most people believe it was just Ocean. Great insight!
I think the Defence Secretary and the Defence Select Committee are more clued up than folk give them credit for but yes the disconnect between the average MP and our military capabilites is astounding. Most probably think the R1 is part of the Royal flight!.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago
Reply to  AV

Ok fair enough, I did t think through the R1s Properly, I was envisaging binoculars and eyeballs!..

AV
AV
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam

Not a problem Cam, my reply was more born from the general lack of understanding with regards ISTAR
and the R1 not necessarily just at you. You’re right of course with the Mk.1 eyeball and binos, certainly would have been the case in the Atlas.

dan
dan
1 month ago

Sad when a country like Britain can’t even provide it’s military with the proper tools to do their missions….

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

sad how?? yeah let’s use a hugely expensive ISTAR asset to track a few dingys. This is a role for the coast guard, not the RAF or RN. Coast guard already have a contract for 2 x Beechcraft King Air B200

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

S**t stirring American I suspect.

With the might and capabilities of the US military I wonder why dan is on a UK centric defence site otherwise?

andy
andy
1 month ago

if we stopped helping these migrants cross in the first place,the message might just sink into them about the very fact they are not wanted,the country is bursting at its seems.we have a massive benefit bill and an NHS who cannot look after us all,and that’s those of us who pay tax,to top it off France has had over 100 million pound since 2015 and the cheek to demand another 30 million pound to stop this mess is outrageous and they need taking to task,after all these migrants set off from France so why are they not applying for asylum… Read more »

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  andy

Just compare the number of patrol boats available to the Italian or Spanish with those available to the UK. Horrifying reading. We have significantly fewer than the Dutch, with their tiny coastline…….

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  David

But your missing the point, all the patrol boats are doing is picking the migrants up and dropping them off at their destination, having more doesn’t solve the problem. The only way to solve the problem is tackle the source and reduce the wars etc in africa.

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

That won’t help with the French fishing boats……

andy
andy
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

that is the problem that needs addressing,to many of our boats being used as a taxi for the final destination.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  andy

Its not fishing boats that are being used it seems.

and if you mean stop the french fishing in our waters, just remember that the majority of the fish being caught by our fisherman is sold into france and only a very small percentage is sold dometically, and so if we stop them they will no doubt apply tarriffs to our fish and therefore kill our fishing industry.

Crabfat
Crabfat
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

“The only way to solve the problem is tackle the source and reduce the wars etc in Africa”. Steve, in reality there are two ‘war’ zones which produce refugees – Africa and the Middle East. Both situations are intractable. Because both have deep roots in tribal, ethnic, sectarian and religious rivalry, and hatred. Roots which go back over hundreds of years. Let’s take the Middle East as an example. George W invaded Iraq in 2003, basically to remove the dictator Saddam Hussein, which he did. He was then accused, quite rightly, of having no plan for the aftermath of the… Read more »

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Crabfat

Don’t forget that we were behind a lot of these problems, for example Blair was right there alongside George W when it came to Iraq1 or alongside W junior when it came to Iraq/Afgan and we and France led the libya and we are now alongside the US in Syria, whilst other EU nations in many cases are less responsible.

There isn’t a perfect answer to this outside using foreign aid and diplomatic pressure to try and end the wars, but we have to accept some responsibility and shouldn’t shy away from the refugee issue that we helped cause.

Crabfat
Crabfat
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Agree with you absolutely, Steve. I should have included Blair in my rant. Also, yes, UK has a lot to answer for historically (past 100-200 years) in many areas of the world – Africa and the MidEast included. However, it wasn’t all bad.

But it’s now 2020 and, history apart, old rivalries still go on. Factions in many countries in Africa and the Middle East still seem intent on tearing their countries apart – whilst the other 99% of their populations have to stand back and suffer. Or migrate to Europe.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

I think you need to rephrase the part of our involvement with Syria. We are not taking any sides with either the incumbent regime or any of the rebellious factions. The only reason we are there is to stabilise the Iraqi Government following the massive swathes of victories that IS had over the Iraqi forces and to prosecute IS in Eastern Syria.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

From my understanding this is not true, we are supporting a number of factions against the Government and helping maintain the civil war. If it wasn’t for ours and the US involvement, the combined Syria and Russian forces would have ended the civil war a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, the Government of Syria is hardly one i would like to live under, but i suspect there will be more migrants fleeing the country due to the civil war than there were without it. Also clearly Russia is not exactly helping the situation either. Should the Syrian government… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Can we not build a sea fence or barrier?

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
1 month ago
Reply to  andy

They do apply for Asylum in France, hundreds of thousands have applied and been accepted in France. The amount attempting to get to the UK is tiny, this is a wholly concocted crisis by ‘Classic’ Dom Cummings, UK Gov and that Grifter Farage to distract from the real problems of the Governments Covid-19 failures, the thousands of job losses as the Furlough scheme is wound up and the ongoing omni-shambles that is Brexit and the giant truck parks being thrown up in Kent. Yes numbers attempting the crossing are up due to the warm weather and the People trafficking Gangs… Read more »

Grubbie
Grubbie
1 month ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Great, a lecture from some middle class leftie bird called Zoe. You simply don’t understand the dynamics. There is a huge demand to come to the UK, it is being restricted by the channel. When the UK government was pressured into accepting unaccompanied minors there were suddenly well in excess of 2000 of them, not all actually minors The Dubbs amendment was a motive to send children. This is nothing to do with being pro or anti immigration, even if you want more immigration, this is a ridiculously unfair and dangerous way of going about it,it just depends on your… Read more »

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
1 month ago
Reply to  Grubbie

She isn’t just some lefty bird, she works for an NGO that actually monitors and deals with the immigrant situation. Everything she said is factually based and shows up how broken our immigration system is! Who cares about a few thousand migrants when there are far greater crisis for the country to deal with. That ‘Classic’ Dom Cummings, UK Gov and Farage are playing the publics fears over ‘Brown people’ on dingy is tiresome! Thousands of job losses every week as the Furlough scheme is wound up and the Country in recession yet this is what people are worried about?!… Read more »

Liam
Liam
1 month ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

I work in Cyprus, what’s your point?

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Let’s face it the government wants the conversation away from how bad a job they are doing with the Covid virus (worlds highest death per capita) and brexit (where are all the trade deals that were were promised would appear the day that brexit happened, 6months on and not a single deal).

This is a topic that they know the media will lap up and keep the conversation away from more important topics.

Lordtemplar
Lordtemplar
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Totally agree with you Steve, and you can add that the economynis in the dumps. -20% when all other EU and US are around -10%.
But hey lets focus on a few dudes in an inflatable boat as some great existential threat and vent frustrations!

OldSchool
OldSchool
1 month ago

We need a simple solution to an awkward problem. Invade France – simple and historically quite effective- for the first hundred years anyway😲.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Talk of changeing the politico-social setup in Africa and the Middle East is just an excercise in Fantasy Land. Africa in particular, is beyond help in virtually every aspect of their peoples lives. A broadly poorly educated populace with a very high propensity to reproduce led by the worlds worst politicians who won’t even acknowledge let alone tackle the issues facing them can only end in disaster. The UK as with many Western Nations is a victim of its self imposed democratic overload. The only solution to the problem is to give basic assistance to the migrants when they land… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

If only we had the Kruger National Park as our border?

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

Aren’t the SA migrants even afraid of snakes or crocs?

David Nicholls
David Nicholls
1 month ago

Would this task be a good one for the Watchkeeper drone? Very high definition radar, good optics and a 16 hour endurance?

There are plenty of spares in storage!

Cymbeline
Cymbeline
1 month ago
Reply to  David Nicholls

My thought exactly, though at the rate we seem to have heavy landings it wont take long to run out of air frames.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley
1 month ago

Does the RAF still have Islanders/Defenders? Surely they are more suited to this Channel Watch role?

FEN TIGER
FEN TIGER
1 month ago
Reply to  JohnHartley

Pity they’ closed Manston’.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  FEN TIGER

Airfield is still open though?

And the MoD are still present.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  JohnHartley

Yes and no.

Northolt Station flight ( SS / GCHQ spy planes in effect ) were replaced by Piper Navajo aircraft operated and owned by a contractor.

The Army’s Defenders are being / have been / transferred to the RAF.

FEN TIGER
FEN TIGER
1 month ago

Manston bought by River Oak Investments an American Company. Plans to reopen in 202?. Wiki. has the the story so far ………. .

simon richards
simon richards
1 month ago

if the home office really wants a proper survellance aircraft why not just buy 3 or 4 global hawks of the americans

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  simon richards

Because they have no money like all the other government departments, and so blaming the MOD instead, and causing money to come out of the defense budget instead of the home office one, is a cleave move.

All the doomsayers like the daily mail have made large parts of the population believe that millions of illegal migrants are just waiting on the other side of the channel to rob them and take their jobs, whilst in reality its tiny numbers actually make it across and the French are doing a great job at keeping that down.

Liam
Liam
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Ah the old Daily Mail reader trope. Given 5 of the Bataclan murderers arrived in Europe via dinghy perhaps a measure of concern is allowed. I could smear Guardian readers as casting all those crossing as pregnant women when the reality is the vast majority are young men. Controlled immigration was a manifesto pledge of the government so why would you cast people who would like controlled migration as ill informed? Stupid comments like this polarise what could be a rational debate. Frankly this is the style of those who would rather smear opponents than deal in facts. By the… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

How is it the UK population is increasingly at around 500K per year?

farouk
farouk
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve wrote: “”All the doomsayers like the daily mail have made large parts of the population believe that millions of illegal migrants are just waiting on the other side of the channel to rob them and take their jobs, whilst in reality its tiny numbers actually make it across and the French are doing a great job at keeping that down.”” Its not that at all and I’m the child of Indian migrants to the Uk. Ive done a load of checking and I found out that the BAME population in 1980 came in at around 3.5% of the population… Read more »

Grubbie
Grubbie
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

The number of asylum seekers is no where near the number of people who have arrived as a result of asylum seekers being given permission to remain. As the government will not release the figures, we will just have to guess. In Germany the average number of relatives who eventually arrived by way of family reunion was 17 per asylum seeker. This works particularly well if the asylum seeker is under 18 years old, hence the huge number of 17 year old boys. British people would be reluctant to send young girls on such a mission, for religious reasons this… Read more »

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

I don’t think its directly racism although it is unfortunately not far off, its fear. The media publishes stories of crime and benefit fraud and people believe it. Yes we have high levels of immigration but lets not forget that the UK populated most of the world during the empire days or that the majority of the immigrants add a huge amount to the economy. A more simple comparison is the town centre at night, my parents are scared to go there because they believe they will be attacked by drunk drugged up youths, because they read it in the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Best post in ages! Queue silence.

Grant
Grant
1 month ago

It seems that our border force is very under equiped compared to foreign equivalents. Sweden has 27 patrol boats for example. Surely more cost effective assets (people have mentioned Islanders) would be much cheaper then Batch 2 OPVs and expensive RAF Istar assets. Perhaps they could be manned by reservists for when we have these ‘flare ups’ due to uncommonly good weather.

A. Smith
A. Smith
1 month ago

This is simply window dressing to cover up this Government’s continued failure to protect our borders and now shines a very bright light on Priti Patel’s and Ben Wallace’s failures to make tangible steps in reducing illegal immigration. Every illegal immigrant that comes into the UK adds more money into the pockets of organised criminals. This has to stop.

If Priti Patel and Ben Wallace are unable to work together to reduce the numbers of illegal immigrants in the very near future then they should do the right thing and resign.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  A. Smith

Why Wallace? This isn’t a defence matter.

A. Smith
A. Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Today’s Border Force resembles a taxi service ferrying illegal migrants handed over by the French. It is not fit for purpose, underfunded and under equipped.

This and the previous Government have had years of planning time available to them after the Brexit vote to get this right. The MoD have the assets and knowledge to assist in this situation and both Government department’s should have coordinated together after Boris got elected. This current Government is not addressing the issue and not meeting the expectations of the electorate.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  A. Smith

What has Brexit got to do with anything? This is no different than what we saw before Brexit, the only change Brexit brings is the UK out of the Dublin Agreement, which means France might make it even tougher to return people in 2021 (since the UK hasn’t an agreement there).

Moreover, again this isn’t a Defence issue, it’s a Law Enforcement one, hell the Home Office had a contract for air surveillance up to 2016 without any issue, just got cut to save money.

Olympus200
Olympus200
1 month ago

More appropriate than a heavy freighter, but using Shadow still a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I’m sure these valuable assets could be better used elsewhere. Interesting that the Home office cancelled a surveillance contract with SERCO in 2016. Typical UK government shortsightedness.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

I see reports that a P8 was use today for monitoring the channel, would have thought there are better uses for such an aircraft.

Ronbo
Ronbo
1 month ago

The current headline-generator in the Channel is bunches of illegal immigrants chancing their arm to get to the UK. No need for overkill there. Just maintain control over the entrants rather than relying on them being decent chaps and getting them to report to a reception centre with a free bus pass, etc. The Aussie system should provide some support. The real demand for OPVs and air intelligence-gathering is going to be when we transfer to spotting, identifying and prosecuting non-UK fishing vessels working in UK waters after we leave the EU finally. I’m not getting into a discussion about… Read more »