The Royal Air Force is preparing to undertake a series of exercises that will see Typhoon jets operate from civilian airfields and possibly sections of road.

It is understood that new Russian weapons systems have prompted the move.

The Telegraph have reported that the idea is similar to Cold War plans for dispersed operations. The newspaper spoke to Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, the Chief of the Air Staff.

During Exercise Agile Stance, fighter pilots and support crews will deploy to alternate locations.

According to the Telegraph here:

“Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said he wants the RAF to re-learn skills not practised for 30 years, and that a series of ‘no-notice’ scatter drills called Exercise Agile Stance will be carried out. The drills will see fighter jets given the order to disperse, meaning they leave their bases to land at civilian airfields or even on motorways. If the jets are spread out, the target for enemies is ‘harder’.

No civilian airfields have yet been identified, and larger airports such as Heathrow and Glasgow would be unlikely locations, but smaller sites such as Teesside, Southend and Liverpool could be viable. The practice of landing jets on motorways, such as Jaguar fighters used to do in the Cold War, could also be an option, ACM said.”

Wigston was quoted as saying:

“I’m not interested in paving over Lincolnshire again and there will be the challenge of having armed aircraft on civilian airfields. But instead of two bases, if all my Typhoons were on 12 bases, that’s a harder target. We should look at this as a national challenge and look at the wealth of airstrips we have in the UK. It sounds a bit Cold War-ey, but we have a pressing requirement to remember how to do it.”

You can read more here.

Jets on Motorways?

A Royal Air Force Jaguar jet landed on a motorway for the first time on April 26, 1975. On that day test pilot Tim Ferguson undertook a demonstration landing of a Jaguar on the M55 motorway between Preston and Blackpool, Lancashire.

The purpose of the flight was to demonstrate the Jaguar’s ability to land on unorthodox landing strips away from main air bases under wartime conditions – a key feature of the jet’s design. The location chosen was the unopened westbound carriageway of the motorway, which was a third of the width of the runway at Warton.

Other air forces do this too, below you can see a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules landing on the A29 Autobahn near Ahlhorn during military exercise ‘Highway 84’

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Billythefish
Billythefish
2 months ago

Not sure I would refer to Jaguar as a fighter jet, but interesting article and thinking about it a bit surprised this practice was forgotten in the first place.

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago
Reply to  Billythefish

Like yourself Billy I’m surprised this was dropped as an option, would have thought it was relatively simple to have a list of the airports and stretches of motorway that were capable enough for use.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

I’m sure they have such a list, Andy. It will have existed back in the Cold War and will be dusted off and updated periodically.

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago

Would imagine there have been a few changes to both roads and regional airports in the last 30 years, hope you’re right that its updated from time to time.

Richard Turner
Richard Turner
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

during the first was of covid lockdowns many RAF aircraft (transporters) did practice landings and take offs at civilian airfields. I live not too far from Birmingham Int airport and we saw many of the aircraft doing practice landings then taking off immediately afterwards doing this at a dozen times. This happened at many regional airports around the country. Birmingham is used to RAF flights as this is the airfield used for medivac flights for casualties being transfer to the QE hospital’s military wing. Very busy during the Afghan conflict.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

It’s not so much the list of roads, it’s operating away from an airfield with everything pre positioned, and everyone used to going home to their comfy beds at night. Living and working in the field is an art in and of itself and that goes even more so when you have to maintain aircraft without the benefit of a enclosed hangar, all while trying to avoid detection by the enemy. Plus if you are detected then you need to consider how to break down, move, and set everything back up before the Opfors airforce or artillery ruins all your… Read more »

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

What is this living in the field you talk of? Nothing less than 5* hotels for Greenbags and RAF Techies. Let the Pongos live in holes in the ground.

Danny Cochrane
Danny Cochrane
2 months ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

Really!!!As someone who was on the Harrier Force in the mid to late seventies I did experience the odd night or ten under canvas. But I would usually agree, pongos in tents techies in hotels

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

I see the Americans have recently practiced quickly locating around a third of their active F22 force to forward small and predominantly civilian strips in various locations in the Pacific outside of Hawaii and their main military strips for similar concerns about Chinese (and no doubt a wider operating Russian navy) new weapons. Not just the ability to use them to land and take off of course, being able to sustain all the needs of crew, support staff and the aircraft themselves with fuel, spares and working environment is called for. I guess the F22 is the worst case scenario… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Billythefish

Jaguars of course had many roles, including: nuclear strike (WE177A), Tactical Reconnaissance, Ground Attack. It could take on enemy aircraft with its two 30mm cannons and AIM-9 Sidewinders (if fitted on overwing pylons).
Does a ‘fighter jet’ have to mean an air superiority aircraft ie dogfighter?

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Pity they struggled to take off in hot weather. Adours were not the most powerful engines.

Anthony M Holt
Anthony M Holt
2 months ago
Reply to  Billythefish

The trouble is, once you get rid of the aircraft that used ‘non-airfield’ runways, the practice is dropped and the reason for it forgotten. History is starting to repeat itself and the indications have been there for s good while. I doubt even the very capable F-35 can take off from roads like the Harrier did.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Anthony M Holt

Hmmm when you think hot weather tend to melt the tarmac…

David A
David A
2 months ago
Reply to  Billythefish

Billy. Did you once work at Filton? Someone I knew there was named BTF!

Marked
Marked
2 months ago

Good luck finding a suitable length of road. Most of the roads I use look like they’ve been bombed already!

Mike
Mike
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Ha, true. I bet the pot holes are well filled in before any landings are attempted.

maurice10
maurice10
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike

As we all know this idea is not new, but imagine using motorways as emergency bases would make targeting considerably more challenging. As not having enough straight motorway, that’s simply not true there are hundreds of miles of paving. Not just Typhoon but the F35 in vertical take-off mode. I think it’s a brilliant idea.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

Classix – Ersatzpiste (1988) – Bundeswehr – YouTube

Even Tornados used to do motorway landing and take offs. I think the big challenge would be for the MoD to find a highway that they could close for a weekend and practice on without causing too much disruption.

maurice10
maurice10
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Absolutely, and I’m sure there are war planners who are having a quiet laugh at all this? Somewhere there must be comprehensive plans already drawn up, utilising our motorway system. In regards to closing roads, I would guess winter times would be a good bet? All this makes eminent sense to take advantage of dispersed assets and what better than motorways and using their bridges and underpasses for additional security?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

Possibly there are plans sitting in a dusty file cabinet somewhere. But plans are the easy part, you need to get people out in the field, practicing, finding out where the equipment pinchpoints and shortfalls are, honing the skills (I’m no Crab but if Pongo life is anything to go by maintaining an aircraft in a hangar and maintaining one in the elements will be two very different proposals). You need to practice caming up your facilities, setting everything up, taking it down, moving (ask any Pongo REMF how much practice it takes to move anything in the Rear Echlon… Read more »

maurice10
maurice10
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

The training will be very specialised and require months of trials, to establish a modus Operandi. If F35’s are included heat resistant matting will be required to protect road surface. One other positive outcome would be to use the four-lane motorways, which could offer increased space for ground crews?

dan
dan
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Will they have to do an environmental impact study first? lol

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

Are you going to edit your comment after I reply to it?

Ian Legg
Ian Legg
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

How about health and safety an even bigger night mare. If these clowns had their way everything would be strangled at birth!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

The old RAF Long Marston, the fire training college, has mock motorway sections on the old runways!

Probably a tad short…

Bob Sayers
Bob Sayers
2 months ago

I think you mean Moreton in Marsh!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob Sayers

Probably !

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

Vertical take off mode would I fear risk very destructive injection. Might perhaps be able to do a relatively short take off perhaps on some roads.

jonathan
jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

the paved sections of motorway are now few and far between. Why because they are fundamentally thinner in depth of construction than the European designed motorways.
The C130 photo is in Germany; not the UK. I’ll believe it when I see it happen

roger jones
roger jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike

important point

dan
dan
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Nice to know it’s not just Cali who’s roads are a national disgrace.

julian1
julian1
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

I remember NJ being a disgrace too, perhaps with the exception of the Parkway and Turnpike.

Boris S.
Boris S.
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

So you’re saying this RAF plan might lead to roads being fixed and kept in better condition? I don’t mind if they do these landings on the roads around where I live if that’s the case. Might be a bit windy but they could use some slalom-training.

Mark Forsyth
Mark Forsyth
2 months ago

Couple of points. If the Russians are coming, commercial airports won’t be flying holiday makers to Greece, so that is a no brainer. They just need to do a couple of practice runs and then video to stick into the flight trainer (or whatever they use). Old friend of mine when in the RAF early 90’s, says they used to practice civvie airport landings, but never actually putting wheels on the deck, so they didn’t have to pay landing fees. As for motorways, well where there is a will, there is a way. We should be worried though when they… Read more »

David A
David A
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Forsyth

Harriers and Typhoons regularly landed at Newcaslte 2000-2010! I suspect the training is more for the rapid deployment including support?

Patrick
Patrick
2 months ago

Maybe they shouldn’t be so eager to scrap the T1s.

Josh P
Josh P
2 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

Not sure I follow – what relevance do the T1s have to this?

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  Josh P

They had a secondary, albeit limited, UK air defence role.

Patrick
Patrick
2 months ago
Reply to  Josh P

If the gov is so worried about Russian attacks that they are considering dusting this old plan off. Then maybe cutting Typhoons isn’t a great idea.

David A
David A
2 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

I thought they were only getting rid of the old tranche 1’s and mostly because of life limitations?

Paul Irving
Paul Irving
2 months ago
Reply to  David A

The Spanish are refurbishing & updating all their T1s, reckoning that it’s the cheapest way to keep numbers up. They’re not bringing them up to full T3 standard, but they’re getting some hardware upgrades & a life extension. They can carry on doing jobs that don’t need full capacity T3s.

I’ve read that the Italians are doing something similar.

Paul T
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

Depends which T1’s you mean – Hawk or Typhoon ?.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Both. i think that is the point.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago

With almost no actual land based air defense batteries, it would be impossible to defend 2 let alone 12 bases. The small number we do have appear to be mainly based abroad, which wouldnt be much use in a surprise attack. The 2 existing bases should be upgraded with fixed missile defense systems. I can’t imagine a couple of extra CAMM systems would be that expensive.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

The opposite. Almost all our land based AD systems are UK based. Baker Barracks at Thorney Island has 2 regiments, 12RA with Starstreak and 16RA with Rapier, being replaced by Sky Sabre. Both are orientated as AD for the army in the field, not as a national AD system. Starstreak especially not suitable for this. The element based abroad is the detached battery of 16RA, one of its 4 batteries rotates to the Falkland Islands. On fixed AD Systems protecting critical UK sites I agree it would be nice to have, but has not had the priority before as there… Read more »

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago

ya not sure the star streaks can defend from balistic missiles or high speed missiles. the uk should invest in the THAAD system or even maybe use mi6 to pinch a few details about the s400- s500 sams. or even buys isreals arrow 3 or davids sling.

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

Don’t worry we can be sure MI6 is doing that. If they haven’t already.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

Starstreak can’t, Its LOS against low flying helis and jets that by some miracle remain in sight long enough. I know it uses tungsten darts and they’re kinetic impact destroys the target.

So against Ballistic Missiles! 😆 No.

Davey gave a proper detailed explanation beyond this poor effort a while back.

dan
dan
2 months ago

Does Britain currently have any long range land based SAM systems that could be used to protect it’s airfields?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

No. Not since Bloodhound.

Ryan Brewis
Ryan Brewis
2 months ago

I would have thought SAMP/T more than CAMM. Then again, wasn’t the decision taken in the 70’s or something that missile defence of the UK was pointless so just focus on base defence? I suppose CAMM fits that mindset better.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Good point. The RAF Regiment gave up operating Rapier many years ago, handing over Fire Units (FU) to the Royal Artillery.
Presumably the RA do not man Rapier FUs at RAF flying stations today – so they are defenceless?

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I guess our main defense is that whilst it would be very easy to place a sub in the channel and job a load of cruise missiles to take out our air bases, it would be very difficult to move any meaniful force to capitalise on it, without being seen significantly in advance. Well unless France suddenly decided it wanted some extra real estate, but then we are talking silly thinking.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

“Buy 40,000 tickets on the Eurostar and invade France.”
-Captain, the Lord, Edmund Blackadder, circa 2001.

Frank62
Frank62
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

I’d like to see us return to AAA in the form of tracked SPAA, a numnber of which are available. Very useful covering both ground forces & dipsersed landing sites.

John Hartley
John Hartley
2 months ago

Nigeria’s 14 Jaguars are up for sale on trade-a-plane website. 3 are 2 seaters. Perhaps a cheap source of “aggressor” training for the RAF?

Challenger
Challenger
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Can’t imagine how outdated and knackered Nigerian Jaguars from the 1970’s would be!

John Clark
John Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

Don’t get me started on the Nigerian Jags, ordered, delivered, virtually never used and stored….

Also never paid for, Export Credit Guarantee Scheme …. The UK tax payer paid BAE !

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

That’s nice, maybe we should ask for the money back when they sell them.

John Hartley
John Hartley
2 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

You would not go to war with them, but if you got 3 two seaters + 3 single seaters flyable, you could use the remaining 8 for spares.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Does Cosford have any Jags left? Had dozens once.

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago

You might want to have a look at Cosford’s Twitter page.  😉 

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

😳 Morning mate. All replaced by GR1s now are they?

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago

Morning,

They have a few GR1s and Hawks, but they still have a decent number of Jags, plus a few of my beloved Harriers.

HMS Sultan is the one to look at if you like helicopters. 😉

Last edited 2 months ago by Lusty
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

Yes, the Defence School of Engineering and RN Air Engineering and Survival Schools. 😀 All part of DCTT, as is Cosford.

To think how many helis once sat up the road at Fleetlands. 🙄

Not seen what they have at Sultan by means of airframes? Wasps? Lynx, Sea Kings I presume? Any Wessex?

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago

Indeedy!

The real question is what *isn’t* at Sultan!

They have a far few Sea Kings and their various variants, as well as Lynx, Wessex, Gazelle, and the odd pre-production Wildcat and Merlin. I don’t know if they still have their own Harrier/Tornado airframes (they only had a few of these).

They used to have 20+ Sea Kings there, though. The old Baggers from Culdrose made their last landings there, with a fourth being delivered by road.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

Impressive mate.

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

Blimey Fleetlands ,used to pass it everyday Had a wessex airframe on show Drove to the dockyard or Whale Island everyday or caught the Pasboat from Royal Clarence yard Home to Duty milage pay

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago

Yep, loads plus quite a few Tonkas. But they’re not in flyable condition. They’ve been used as a training aid for 30 years. During Guif War 1 some of their aircraft has the wings removed. As the Jags in the Gulf were suffering significant leading edge wing erosion. The knackered wings went on the Cosford Jags. Some of the Jags were used for battle damage repair training, so they can’t be used. The Harriers in the desert are in a far better state.

Last edited 2 months ago by DaveyB
James
James
2 months ago

Surely this idea just highlights the gaping hole that is national missile defence or the fact we have none?

If they are thinking the Russians pose a threat in the area of attacking land targets on UK soil with conventional weapons then isnt now the time to start developing some sort of SAM system to defend the homeland.

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago
Reply to  James

No,no. The top priority of current defence planning is to send most of our military assets as far away from the UK as possible. Global Britain.
Really you are absolutely right: how the Defence Command Paper can rightly identify Russia as the greatest threat to European security and then go on to announce the dispersal and forward basing of ever more of our forces defies logic.
Before swanning off to Asia/Pacific, we should make sure the UK is fully protected- more air defence aircraft, missile systems, ships protecting our shores and waters not somebody else’s.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Ah silly me, forgot about that policy of spreading far and wide, must re adjust ones thought processes.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Look on the bright side…..they won’t be taken out by Russia in a surprise attack will they!  😉 

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago

A bit like one of Baldrick’s cunning plans?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Exactly!  😀 

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

China is the dragon in the pottery shop. Russia would have to get past Norway and Denmark first and attacking the Baltics would see Finland and Sweden involved.

Couple of youtubes on China – one from Russia Today and for credible balance, one from the FT.

China needs to be counter attacked now by soft power and defence diplomacy.

And I still think it is a massive own goal leaving Sri Lanka off the port visits.

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago
Reply to  David

If we as a country are willing to fund a global role AND proper UK defence then fine. But the latter should be the priority.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago
Reply to  David

Agree on all points.

Trevor Holcroft
Trevor Holcroft
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

We are part of NATO. Are the Russians going to bomb us and say hey you Frenchies Jerries and Poles. Or do they just say. — “don’t bothered are only invading England… oh and you scots, we are not bothered about you honest. We just want to obliterate England cos it’s easy”

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  James

not entirely true the type 45s are gonna get anti-ballistic missile upgrades. but ur right we need some sort of sam systems. but then again due the ABM treaty it won’t help much against a Russian saturation attack.

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

Even the US could do nothing against that now will be able to for the forceable future.

Last edited 2 months ago by David Steeper
dan
dan
2 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

The US is bringing back many of it’s Patriot and THAAD systems back from the Middle East that could be used to defend bases, ect. America also has their dedicated Intercontinental missile defense system that is being expanded. Not to mention a good number of USN ships capable of shooting down ballistic missiles.
NATO countries need to invest in their own ballistic missile defense and not depend on America for that anymore. At least some of the Middle East countries are spending big money on that.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

For all the massive amounts of money spent by the US on ballistic missile defence, their system is only designed to intercept a handful of ICBMs. It is literally irrelevant when your talking about Russian or Chinese arsenals. The best defence against ICBMS is what it always was…. fire them at us and you burn yourself.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jonathan
Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

That’s a good point, seeing as how the T45s spend most of their lives in port 😉

DP
DP
2 months ago

Ahh yes, I can see it now ….. “MOD in talks with Costa and Starbucks over use of next generation HAS design as a drive-thru”!

KPB
KPB
2 months ago

I suppose it’s a handy capability if the flyboys fancy a Ginsters or racking up some Shell points on their fuel card.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
2 months ago

Wouldn’t of been better to procure (not develop due to cost) a ABM system. The SAMP/T system in use by France and Italy uses Aster 30 missiles and has shown the ability to shoot down ballistic missiles. Or maybe THAAD

Donaldson
Donaldson
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

You stop right now with all that common sense!

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
2 months ago

The M1 will never be the same

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Gonna be some monstrous points handed out for speeding fines!

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Its ok, with the heat we’re having this week, the potholes are being filled with molten tar.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Self levelling road weather. God bless global warming, it’s not all bad.

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  James

They don’t carry number plates… 😉

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  David

Nothing to do with us gov, it’s not our typhoon, ask the Luftwaffe.

James William Scott
James William Scott
2 months ago
Reply to  James

I’d like to ses a camera pick up a call sign as a Typhoon speeds down the motorway for take off.

Paveway
Paveway
2 months ago

A great idea in principle, disburse the aircraft to protect that capability, however there is one major flaw to this. It’s not aircraft capability or capacity at regional airports to handle the aircraft. The problem is the RAFs ability to generate the support infrastructure to do this. For example all RAF squadrons are very lean staffed, often heavily “gapped” missing key staff. The modern RAF (like all the military) is heavily dependent on contractors, leased equipment, a “white fleet” of vehicles that is often little use other than on station and it is tied into these contracts with almost no… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Paveway

RAF Withering? Your joke, I guess. Quite a good one.

nic
nic
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Surely if they are talking about doing this , They will have to factor in a QRF style unit to refuel, rearm and provide landing site security for the aircraft.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

It does that to me on my phone when I type Wittering! Auto correct!

Mike
Mike
2 months ago

They should try the A303. Good luck getting anywhere quickly on that road in summer.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Yes, that section of single lane near Stonehenge is the culprit. At least they have doubled much of the rest of it.

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

And now they want to build a tunnel past stonehenge make sure its bombproof and has the dimensions for underground hangar use

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

They’ve been considering that for years.

Why not? SPTA, Boscombe, Porton are only a few miles away. 😉

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

It’s not the roads fault….it’s the “ohhh look stonehenge” Must slow down effect.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The damned Rubberneckers. How lovely, when your in a traffic jam and the accident is on the other side of the motorway.

Challenger
Challenger
2 months ago

Perfectly sensible to revive this sort of training and to keep a contingency list of sites handy.

At the same time some improvements to the defence of the main operating bases would be nice! Are there any plans to site Sky Sabre batteries at airfields? I’d have thought that should be the minimum level of capability to defend such important assets.

We’ve been far too blasé about UK defence infrastructure for far too long.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

Not officially. The army’s minimal AD assets are for protecting the army in the field.

Angus
Angus
2 months ago

To be honest the UK never really practiced this policy except with the Harrier Force in Germany as they were the only ones with the support kit. Singapore and Sweden do this all the time and the Swizz to, to a limited amount. Since the RAF is giving up real flying maybe the flying pay saved could pay for some real needed kit. Give the RN another couple carriers and always a couple at sea so you have at least something left when the balloon goes up, they at least work weekends at sea.

Doug Scott
Doug Scott
2 months ago
Reply to  Angus

The majority of Singapore’s Expressways (motorways) were designed just for this purpose and to an extent, Singapore MINDEF are still involved at the strategic design end. The Singaporeans have also decided to purchase 4 F35Bs for evaluation (the F35 will ultimately replace their F16s) which makes sense considering how and what they would be used for.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug Scott

While Switzerland hasn’t designed the “majority” of their motorways for this purpose (see “Alps” for more information) they too have deliberately designed sections to be used as emergency runways.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

As discussed with Davey and others on the previous thread, just as likely and more convenient to use existing runways on the MoD estate and certain regional airports seeming as the infrastructure required still exists on many of them. If they go even further and practice total bare base operations from sections of motorways I believe in the Cold War the straight stretch of the A1M was considered. With the screaming likely to come from an ungrateful and uncaring public who are inconvenienced by covid restrictions daily I can imagine the uproar if they close off sections of motorway. Just… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago

Hmmme There is another issue that nobody has touched on. Certain sections of motorway were laid in concrete sections and had no bridges or anything else that would get in the way. Much of those concrete sections were tarmaced over because they were better to drive on and less noisy. I do wonder if any of the motorway surfaces have been kept to an engineering standard for this? Now you have gantries all over the place – particularly on the ‘smart’ sections. I think you are right to suggest keeping it on the MOD estate. Even, these days, working in… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

800 million on Marham and was it 200 million on Waddo recently? I know Marham was more than hard standing and included lots of other specialist stuff to prepare for JFL but even so.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago

£1Bn should get an awful lot built even these days.

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago

I might catch some flak (pun not intended) here, but I would also argue that part of the problem is our insistence on pooling assets en-masse into a handful of airbases, rather than using the defence infrastructure that we already have. I’ll of course be influenced by a degree of bias, but I would argue that we should have considered basing the future RN F35s at Culdrose/Yeovilton, rather than at Marham. Yes, it’s part of the programme and yes, it makes sense to pool the maintenance facilities and other associated facilities, but you’re playing into the dispersal problem straight away… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

I totally agree. Hate seeing bases close as I feel it impacts defences visibility with the public, as well as reduces our options.

There were 9 stations with front line fighter jets in the UK in the late 90s.

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

Spot on ! It would surely make sense to base F 35 at Yeovilton and Culdrose, maybe even St Mawgan. Ideal for squadron embarkation on the QE`s.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Salt

Not because you live down there is it Steve….😉

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
2 months ago

Busted ! I did think of including Culdrose, St Eval and Predannack  😆  😝  😎 

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Salt

Penzance heliport could do with an extra airframe to two as well. 😉

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

Lol  😎 

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Salt

I have a long memory! I remembered our Bude conversation. My hearts down there too!
St Eval! Remove the wires and antenne first!

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
2 months ago

Hi Daniele
My wife and I toured around what’s left of the ‘ patch ‘ at St Eval a while back and found her old MQ from the 90’s. It’s a shame the antennae spoil the landscape. Could re-surface Davidstow Moor, no obstructions, just crap weather, handy for the Western Approach’s though. 😁

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Salt

You finally lost me with Davidstow Moor. My local knowledge isn’t that good! Isn’t a place called Old Park Barn also down there? Used as a DZ?

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
2 months ago

Hi Daniele
RAF Davidstow Moor was a Coastal Command station near Camelford about 15 miles south of Bude, 3 long runways but plagued by bad weather and poor flying conditions. 404 Sqn RCAF flying Beaufighters is probably the best known unit to have been cursed with having to operate from it. Never heard of Old Barn Park though.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Salt

Thanks Steve.

Daveyb
Daveyb
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Salt

If the MoD keep to the plan of purchasing 90+ F35s. They can’t all operate from Marham, it’s too small. So I do wonder if there is a plan to reuse Yeovilton in the future?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

No flak from me, I’ve maintained selling off MoD real estate has been a stupid and shortsighted policy, though from a retention stand point rather than a strategic one.
I would easily be in favour of the Army handing back old RAF bases to be used as actual airfields (maybe get someone to fill back in the craters we put into North Luffenham’s runways), and get the Army some urban sites (because we shouldn’t have every single Army unit based in the country side with nothing around them).

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

Quite agree the screaming public who would be up in arms about the requiresition of public assets namely motorways are the same people that when the excrement hits the propeller scream Where’s the bloody security that I pay my Taxes to keep me safe gone

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

The problem I have with using MoD sites is that you don’t actually end up practicing the skills and drills needed. It’s just “show up at another airport” when the point of flying dispersed from austere flying bases is to avoid being targeted.

This is the same issue I have with regional airports: Yes there are plenty of them, and great that we operate from them but fundamentally they’re marked points on the map that are very easy to identify and monitor. Working off a road at least buys you a bit of camoflage.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

That is all true Dern. I guess better than nothing and sitting at the MOBs.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

A question is whether we need to operate from austere locations or simply dispersed? Certainly every airfield is a known location but it would take a lot of missiles to preemptively hit every one of them with sufficient weight of fire to actually disable the runways on them for a significant period. Russia can’t afford to expend all its missile stocks against the UK, assuming conventional warheads, so it would need a massive inventory to prosecute such an attack and have enough for use against NATO allies. I doubt that’s affordable or practical and might in any case trigger a… Read more »

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

I think we’re kind of coming from a similar place. Austere won’t be fully covert, not in this day and age, but by increasing the number of possible operating locations you increase both the burden on satellite imagery (if you soak up more of the enemy’s ISTAR even if it’s just the analysts looking at the pictures then they’re not looking for something else), but also you increase the amount of time you have before that kill chain catches up with you.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

That may be why the AVM threw in “… or even on motorways.” There is a greater deterrence factor the higher the number of possible operating locations. I suspect we may at some point deliberately do such a demonstration just for this purpose, even if in reality we only expect to disperse to air fields. Unfortunately virtually all peer adversary analysis is likely to be AI computer based over time, fed by significant numbers of LEO satellites using multiple sensor technologies. This expectation also seems to be driving the Army’s dispersed operating philosophy too. It will be challenging for anyone… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago

Ah, but then we would have a ground base “fricken” laser to either blind them or take them out.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

🙂 Might be a little tricky, even to blind or dazzle an optical sensor, if the ground station isn’t co-located within the field of view of the target of the satellite’s optical sensor. Especially if the satellite operates with shutters/shields to limit exposure of sensors and maintains multiple shielded sensors for redundancy.

It might also not be so easy to disable with a laser or microwaves if modest shielding is used that limits exposure of sensors and comms and is hard to penetrate at LEO satellite distances.

After all that we probably wouldn’t know if we had been successful.

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago

Sorry, was being a little bit tongue in cheek with the comment. The majority of surveillance satellites are geostationary rather geosynchronous as per communications satellites. This means that by using an almanac their paths can be easily tracked. It also means that at some point if following a northern hemispherical path, they will pass over or near to the UK. They do have a limited amount of propellent to change their flight path, but not by a great amount. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are general not as hardened for EMI as the higher flying ones, as the Earth does… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

No worries, I assumed it was light hearted, hence the smiley, but thought it was worth throwing out a few thoughts. I presume we are likely to see more robust physical protections on military LEO satellites given the threats. It will increase weight, but may not be a major negative given falling launch costs. Speed of orbit probably helps protection too, along with the potentially large number of deployed combined with a satellite’s ability to look obliquely forcing counter measures to travel through longer atmospheric paths to engage. In any event I’m sure plenty of thought is being given to… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago

More than welcome. When the war committee asked Watson Watt, that they wanted him to design and build a death ray, the SBX-1 must be pretty close to what was required, it’s an absolute beast. I went to a presentation by the Surrey Satellite company (SSC) at Guilford Uni. Foreign interference was some of the questions put to them. The current cubesats they make only have rudimentary protection, the larger stuff gets a lot more or so they say. I can imagine that the Galileo and the Onenet stuff will be better protected. But this has to be balanced against… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I considered cubesats but I’m not sure the numbers or small size would be enough to avoid all of them being successfully targeted by laser or microwave weapons for the reasons you’ve outlined, given their lack of physical defences. Their numbers and low cost would deter mechanical grappling in space or kinetic space or ground launched methods of destruction though, due to the much higher costs of the weapon systems. That said, a question is whether it would be possible to make a cubesat, or a satellite of similar size and payload but not necessarily designed to cubesat rules, stealthy… Read more »

Pete
Pete
2 months ago

Assume places like Kinloss barracks and Leuchars would be capable of use. Been a long long time but what condition is the runway at RM Condor in….seem to recall it being about 1100m but assume it’s no longer maintained.

Steve M
Steve M
2 months ago

You can understand ACM comments about dispersal, we will be down to 6 ‘main’ operating bases soon 1: RAF Conningsby – Typhoon’s 2: RAF Marham – F-35’s 3: RAF Brize Norton – Transport 4: RAF Lossiemouth – Typhoons, P8, E-7 5: RAF Waddington – drones and EC-135 plus 2 SHF bases which in the terms of Russian threat won’t be considered one so 5 new Ruskkie hyper-sonic missiles no more effective RAF 🙁 with only what 10 Sqns worth (physical) aircraft will 1 Sqn per dispersed site which as was pointed out on another thread will we have enough GSE… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve M
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve M

No. TSW supports the RAF SHF. Expeditionary Logistics Wing at Wittering has various bits and pieces, like 2 MT Sqn, and the army has an entire SGRE for supporting airfields, ADR, and so forth. RAF Reg FPWs too few. RAuxAF Reg sqns defend their local stations. Unless they expand enabling assets dramatically this is window dressing. I saw in RAF News years back a deployment to RAF St Mawgan but I don’t think they took aircraft with them! Yes, all explained on the other thread in greater detail. As with the army, beware cutting your enablers. Which they like to… Read more »

Steve M
Steve M
2 months ago

RAF Wittering is home to 2MT and other logistics Sqn’s +flying training, like RAF Honnington is home to FP, RAF Regt & RAFP.
I am not undermining the importance of the other sites and the role the units play the RAF needs them all, but the bottom line is the RAF is about airplanes and from what i am reading we are down to 5 Front line bases plus SF which is mainly moving squaddies about. So 5 (6 if you include AKT) big bombs no RAF threat.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve M

Great post Steve. Only 6-8 bases for Ivan to target with stand-off weapons, such as the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. The next Battle of Britain might just last 5 minutes, and this time, we lose! Very alarming. I wonder what the RAF Combat Development guys are working on to avoid this Doomsday scenario.

Andy a
Andy a
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Show me that their hypersonic missles actually works cos with Russia I’m not convinced till I see it cos a lot of their claims are rubbish

Michael
Michael
2 months ago

I know Wick in the North of Scotland used to regularly host RAF jets doing touch and go!

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago

They tried this in RAFG during 70’s with Harriers and it just didn’t work. You may be able to hide a flight of aircraft but 200 plus ground crew and dozens of fuel,ammo,comms and repair trucks stick out like a sore thumb.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Motorway service stations? Airfields with industrial estates next door ( most ) with warehouses huge enough to drive inside?

It’s possible, just need the people.

Not mentioned ATC probs yet either.

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago

It would make the Russians work for it but satellites are even better today than they were in the Cold War.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Of course. Can read a newspaper I believe.

Few sites are ever going to be totally covert. The idea is to multiply the targets they need to hit rather than hide completely, and move often.

Truly covert sites have people and a few civilian type vehicles, not military aircraft!

All the many runways at MoD sites we’ve been discussing on this and the other thread are as well known to Russia as to anyone else.

To do this today will be a monumental undertaking. Swedes and Swiss are good at it.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

The Swiss I believe have some airfields that they still deny exist to this day. Which is impressive in a country that wouldn’t reach much north of the Watford gap.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Is that so?! Very impressive. I’ve seen articles about their underground mountain bases, aircraft using mountain tunnels as HAS, and camouflaged artillery positions but not complete deniable airfields. How to hide the runways and taxi ways?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

So it depends on if you want to believe they are real or not, as I said the swiss government denies (or doesn’t comment on) secret Swiss Airforce facilities, but there are airbases that are partially constructed into Mountainsides, Meiringen being notable as all it’s hard standings are beneath the surrounding mountains. (Somewhat hilariously at Meiringen the underground hangars are separated from the rest of the airfield by a public road, so you can find video’s of F-18’s taxing across the “level crossing” where the Taxiway and public road meet). If you do want to believe there are secret Swiss… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Yes, pretty much my limited knowledge on it. I’ve read a few articles and seen those vids. I wouldn’t put it past them.
I recall innocent farm houses on mountain slopes with bunker replacements inside for artillery too.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

There was a time, when I was much younger, when I spent a lot of time in Switzerland, I’ve seen the innocent farmhouses firsthand. Also the dragons teeth strewn casually across the swiss mountains.

Mark B
Mark B
2 months ago

I have a vision of a fighter trundling up the the sliproad to watford gap with the interesting signs on the overhead gantrys on the smart motorway.

Smart motorways take so long to build it makes you wonder if there are whole sections containing underground bunkers 😀 

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

They’re not that smart! Part of the M1 near M Keynes has a rumour like that.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

I never did understand what was smart about using the hard shoulder as an extra lane…cheap maybe….but removing a key safety feature is not what I would call smart.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes, I dislike driving along that stretch of the M1.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

Yes your always thinking about, what if I need to pull over….

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

It’s a few years since I drove that way but I recall the only places were under bridges where dedicated crash barriered refuges were sited.

Paul42
Paul42
2 months ago

Would it simply be a good idea to stop putting all eggs in one or two baskets in the rush to close bases and make money out of housing developments?

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

Spot On!

They are (were) huge national strategic assets. Short-sighted decision making. Nobody in the UK thinking strategically longer-term.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

Hmm, not always. Always thought retaining RAF stations with runways and other infrastructure then giving them to the army as barracks was a sound move if ever the airfield was needed again.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
2 months ago

..yes, that is the best solution, but most are now stuffed.

Crabfat
Crabfat
2 months ago

Lyneham and Colerne, to name two. However, as I’ve said before, a lot of airfields are now dug up or serve as lorry parks, or massive solar panel sites.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

For the airforce maybe, I think it’s not that great for army recruitment and retention however…
Then again the army seems pretty keen to shoot itself in the foot in that field anyway.

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

During the Cold War seems so long ago prior to it actually going Hot TTW (transition to war) would have come into effect Motorways were for military use only , The now retired Jaguar (Anglo French) fighter actually landed on one motorway, fast fwd to today and most roads look like Runway denile weapons have already been used

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
2 months ago

Why don’t we do away with tanks we are not going to use, Ajax that doesn’t work and the under armed Boxer tin cans; sell off the rest of the surplus kit and spend the money elsewhere. The Royals, the Para’s and the new Rangers are going to need better airlift capability and chopper support. Heavy artillery and and LRMS would be of far more use.
. Money saved to be used working with France or Israel on a good air defence system for the UK. It’s a lot easier to hide a truck then a Typhoon.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
2 months ago

Of course the Nazis were on the ball during WWII, using the autobahns whilst the RAF blasted the bejezus out of aerdromes and factories. I suppose the UK needs a combination of: not concentrating assets on just 6 bases, building a fully layered home-defence anti-missile network; maybe even dispersing assets to Falklands, Aussieland, Ascension etc.. At least then there would be a chance of some reinforcements coming back after a surprise attack. Limiting factors are obviously £dosh and lack of personnel/logistics as others have pointed out. I myself have always thought a long-rage strategic bomber capability with stand-off long-range big… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

Dispersal of Assets is key survival of the Armed forces was worked out if the Russian Bear took a swipe at us is as follows 1 day for RAF Assets 1 week for Naval surface Assets and Indefinite for the Army if ability to be supplied can be maintained good luck on that one

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

I Just wondered about your suggestion of a bomber with stand off capabilities and thought if the mod had ever envisaged using the Concorde whilst it was in its planning stage and the RAF was still the key nuclear deterrent V force supersonic, high altitude but hey O S act probably have to wait 50yr rule to find out whether or not there was a feasibility study carry out

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

Don’t get me going on that one….

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

And would they have kept the livery colours very deceptive

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

The Concord was used quite a few times in the aggressor role as a Backfire and a Blackjack. Not only were the RAF using it but other NATO countries such as the US and Norway. I think the Canadians also had a go. All interceptions had to be planned meticulously. As the Concord would stay at a cruising speed of between Mach 1.8 and Mach 2, whilst pretending to fly a missile release profile. What wasn’t widely reported, is that a lot of the interceptions failed, as the pilot/navigator got the timing wrong. No extra kit was added to the… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by DaveyB
Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Thanks Davey for the info on the Concord my late father worked on the Air flow speed indicator a little piece of equipment attached to the fuselage with a large price tag due to the metal is was made from mostly Platinum well that’s what he told me when I was knee high to bollard

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

Your welcome. Platinum is used a lot in bimetallic strips that make up outside air temperature (OAT) sensors, due to its high temperature resistance and unreactivity. Concord would need accurate OAT sensors to help calculate the aircraft’s Mach number.

Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
2 months ago

The MOD seriously needs to sort itself out, we do not have the armed forces capable to take on both Russia and China, we should only focus on Russia.

If the MOD are that concerned by Russia’s weapons systems, then they should seriously invest in long-range missile defences, sonar-equipped drones and more P-8s.

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago

If we ever take on either alone it would end in tears. That’s why we’re in NATO.

Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
2 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I obviously didn’t mean the UK independently, even as a part of NATO, we don’t have the luxury of splitting our armed forces between the North Sea, naval bases in the Middle-East and the Pacific. Others may disagree, but to me, sending our Carrier group to the Pacific stinks of typical old US appeasement policies.

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago

That’s a good point about the pacific leg of CSG21. Militarily there’s very little we can contribute if god forbid China does a Putin to Taiwan or even Japan. Hope that part is about building relationships with that part of the world in trade and defence industry co-operation. But we can have a big influence in the Gulf and for me that’s as far as our arm should reach.

Positroll
Positroll
2 months ago

A few videos on how using motorways was done in Germany during the cold war …

in Engl
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx7Meo7w-pY

in German,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_cxkF6qSY8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwCAUepOIvE

Requires a lot of preparation, coordination and training. …

Mark WALLACE
Mark WALLACE
2 months ago

Will they turn the average speed cameras off for the jets?
So Russia 5th column will include Russia lorry drivers who will block /crash the motorways with trucks after dropping off their agents with biological weapons.
Perhaps we will need more F-35B for the RAF unless we can get back all the Harriers we disposed off!

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark WALLACE

Most of the GR7/9s are stuck in the the US desert boneyard in a weatherproof cocoon. They have manage to get B52s that had been in the boneyard for 40 years flying again. So never say never!

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark WALLACE

The Harrier’s would only be useful on the Eastern Front or in the Baltics as offensive attack aircraft hidden in woodlands to attack Russian tank and infantry formations.

Last edited 2 months ago by Meirion X
David
David
2 months ago

Walney airfield is going to get visitors again! Ditto Carlisle 🙂

NIC
NIC
2 months ago

The RAF will have to form QRF style teams to react to the satellite landing areas . To refuel ,rearm and provide security and also feed the pilots .

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  NIC
nic
nic
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

A modern version of this would probably solve the problem, something would have to provided for the tactics to work efficiently.

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  nic

There was a big push in the 90s to create a unit that could do this, but it got canned. If I remember correctly, a lot of it was to do with the question of the level of maintenance that was to be done and their relative competences. Should it be just a quick rearm and refuel, or be able to do flight servicings and battle damage repair? Mind you with today’s front line fixed wing aircraft, there’s very little battle damage repair you can do. that doesn’t end up being a permanent repair. The 2nd Gulf War put paid… Read more »

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
2 months ago

Many on this site are getting hysterical about an announcement on new training initiatives. No we are not at war with Russia and no we don’t need to rush out and spend billions on ABM defence.
Chill out guys we have MADmen!

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

Lack of ground based air defence (IE SAMs) is a structural weakness in our defence posture. The Army has a small air defence capability and the RAF none. Furthermore the RAF’s doesn’t even have hardened shelters for it’s limited number of hugely expensive fast jets. Now since, because of cost, we have all our fast jets at only three bases this makes them highly vulnerable. This exercise goes some way to countering that threat by practising dispersal however I reckon the the RAF should, as a priority, form three RAF Regt Sqns to man (and women) Sky Sabre armed batteries… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I’d agree with that.

The HAS sites do exist, but only if our squadrons are dispersed as before to properly utilise them. Lossi, Marham, Coningsby all have 2 sites each I believe. Leuchars has 2. Leeming has 2, maybe 3, I forget. Honington and Wattisham have 2, Boscombe has 1, St Mawgan has 1.
I don’t include those with USVF.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Abandoned hardened shelters at ex-US bases such as Upper Heyford, but gradually being consumed by development £pound/$dollar.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

One of the things I’ve always wondered about is why we don’t have anything to protect the channel tunnel.
Everyone always talks about Sea Lift, but the Tunnel allows army vehicles to embark on a train and not stop until they hit the gauge change in Poland.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Fairly sure there will be a procedure for destroying it if needs be. I don’t see how you could defend it though. Just needs…; on second thoughts I’d better not say. Put it this way, I doubt NATO plan on it staying intact.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Close it to civilian traffic and put SAM stations on either side, that would do the trick.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

That wouldn’t make much difference to a small submarine with a mine.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

You know the Tunnel isn’t just sitting on the seabed right?

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Ever seen the Dambusters? Earthquake mine; the water pressure would channel the explosion into the sea bed.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

We aren’t talking about the Damnbusters, we are talking about damaging a small tunnel beneath 40+m of solid rock, with more solid rock beneath it (presumably after this sub has got through the Baltic, the Kattegat, and the North Sea without being detected before crisscrossing one of the busiest NATO shipping lanes and one of the most important choke points, looking for something that has no obvious landmarks), not breaching a 6m thick damn with air on the other side.

It’s a false comparison.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Well no reason why some of the Sky Sabres couldn’t be positioned down there.

I’d guess a greater threat is Russian 5th columnists or Spetsnatz types blowing a train within the tunnels or similar sabotage. Do Russian fishing or merchant fleets still hang out off ports like in the Cold War? Ready to scuttle.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

The only reason I see is because they’d be needed wherever the Armoured Columns on rail carriages where going.

I recon you are right, although I don’t think it would be all that easy to blow up the tunnel, derailing a train in the middle would be a good roadblock, which is one of the reasons you’d have to shut the Tunnel to civilian traffic.

If it’s shut to all non-military traffic, and you have blokes staging on the entrances then if someone breaks in you simply don’t send trains in until you’ve checked the tracks.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

You know as well as I, better in fact, how MoD has contingencies for just about anything. Is it called the war book or Red book? Whatever, sure there will be something planned for the CT. It’s too important a strategic asset not to have something planned.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

Unlike the RAF at least the Army has exercised using the CT, and proven they can use it to get armour onto the continent. (Even with all the civilian traffic that it’s using). So yes, I’m pretty confident there are plans in place for it.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Not really. At it’s greatest depth the Chunnel is 75ms beneath the seabed. Understand you don’t need to blow it up, you just need to disturb the tunnel lining for it to flood. You could do this from within with a terrorist type bomb but more likely with a mine or bunker buster bomb. Of course if that all failed a fairly small nuke would have the same affect, especially if delivered directly to the target by submarine.

So it isn’t really defendable which is why the UK & US invest in sealift.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Yes really Rob.
Oh and if you are setting off Nukes in the channel, then it’s all over anyway, but good job ignoring every point I made. I think we’re done here.

Bob
Bob
2 months ago

Wouldn’t say no to the RAF revisiting Biggin Hill.

Chris Gooding
Chris Gooding
2 months ago

Personally it would be great to have certain motorways be made available for trials.
Converting stretches of A roads with large lay-bys for aircraft and maintenance or service stations being taken over.
I have alway liked how the Swedish government utilises there road system

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

Is the RAF considering operating off Highways because that’s where the Premier Inns are?

All jokes aside I’ve been saying the RAF needs to focus on this sort of genuinely austere (not FOB in Afghansitan austere) airfield a lot more for a few years now.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago

News paper headline police Chase Typhoon jet down the M1 🚔

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Better be something better than a diesel Astra.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB
DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Ha, I remember that well. I have a mate who was on 29 Sqn when it was filmed. It was a big day for the Station, lots were watching. The awful truth is that Top Gear edited the video to make the Bugatti seem closer when the Typhoon crossed the line. The pilot had practiced the run a few times being told off twice for breaking the sound barrier. They even talked of a rematch, where the Typhoon was fully armed, but the idea was canned as being too war like.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Well a closer race does make for better TV… 😀

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago

Last time I visited my regional airfield (‘port’ would be an exaggeration I feel) I heard a roar and two Typhoons took off in formation.

An over due initiative. Finland has large strips on existing roads; suddenly one is driving on a runway looking anxiously at the sky just in case.

Simon Bradshaw
Simon Bradshaw
2 months ago

Don’t the Americans do something similar? Aren’t some of their fighter units stationed at civilian airports?

Jake
Jake
2 months ago

I would have thought a more pressing issue is basing the whole aerial refuelling fleet (which is essentially the backbone of the fighter fleet) at a single runway airfield…

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

Just a thought … maybe whoever was involved in selling off all the former military airbases, could have keep the runways, and just leased off the buildings, as has been done on a just a couple of former airfields that I know of.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Yes, agree. And many have been kept and are still on MoD estate. What bases with airfields have been sold off and built on? I think plenty have been kept. Finningley is an airport, same with St Mawgan, though the station remains. Coltishall a prison, dont know about Binbrook. Wyton airfield has been sold but the station remains. Biggin Hill has been civilian for decades, same with Kemble, St Athan still an airfield with Mod occupying part of it. Linton, Fenton are training stations recently or fairly recently closed. RAE Bedford is used for other things. Llanbedr i think is… Read more »

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

Nice long narrative, however I said nothing about ‘being built on’.
The runways I was thinking of, which are now lost were RAF Bentwaters, RAF Woodbridge and RAF Burtonwood, Burtonwood who’s runway and airfield are now completely dismantled.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Your line “as has been done on a just a couple of former airfields that I know of” was why I replied with a list of places where that has already happened, either kept by MoD or runways still there. Sorry the narrative was so long. And as for “being built on” I know you said nothing, I was asking you. As that seems to be the narrative so often here with posters shouting bases are being lost, when in fact many are not, but transferred to the army or other government agencies. Which is why I listed them. I… Read more »

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

If I remember correctly, Bentwaters had a massive runway, over 2,500 metres I believe.

I have always been a fan of VTOL aircraft, as they have the massive advantage of being able to land just about anywhere. I never could understand why the uk ditched the Harrier, and anything more to do with it.

If enough investment had been put into a new aircraft, in the form of an ‘enhanced harrier’ type, we wouldn’t have had to buy from the US, plus we would be benefitting from sales of the new developed aircraft.

ian Bailey
ian Bailey
2 months ago

this was done back in mid 70’s and units hidden under Bridges etc brilliant concept if the support teams can also be hidden.

Patrik R
Patrik R
2 months ago

The Swedes have been doing this since the cold war. The Gripen is designed for it. There are hundreds roadstrips in Sweden where you can land and refuel/rearm a fighter jet.

Palaoran
Palaoran
2 months ago

And now the pilots can take their fighter at home for a rapid response out of hours!

Klonkie
Klonkie
2 months ago

With the disbandment of the RAF Regiment Rapiers, is the army obligated to provide air defence assets to protect RAF bases – like in ww2 ?

Frank62
Frank62
2 months ago

Tongue in cheek, everybody seems to speed without repercussion on motoways, so why not let jets land & take off from there?

All those closed & sold off cold war era RAF bases seem a huge waste to the country’s defence, reducing our options & survivability. Pity the F35 demands specially heat protected landing strips or they could function like the old Harriers from practically anywhere. Maybe time to produce an updated STOVL combat jet that isn’t as demanding or eye-wateringly expensive as the F35.

Christopher Frampton
Christopher Frampton
2 months ago

If only they had retained a SHORAD capability within the RAF Regiment they could have provided a comprehensive CAGE protective environment

julian1
julian1
2 months ago

Perhaps an equally good ide would be to keep more former/down-graded RAF airfields useable. Kinloss, Leuchars. Wyton, Leeming, St Mawgan, Manston. Some are still MOD sites, some have been turned over to civvy use but barely developed so still have capacity, dispersal and long runways. I fear we dont have the ground security for too many dispersed sites nor the weapon concentrations. I have always worried that we concentrate on too few super-bases.

Paul O'Reilly
Paul O'Reilly
2 months ago

Just ask the the retired RAF Germany Harrier Force personnel .How to do it and stop reinventing the wheel. I deployed 9 times in my 3 years on a Harrier Squadron . On grass strips ,runways and roads .it was the hardest time in the RAF but the best and showed what could be done .

NIck B
NIck B
2 months ago

I don’t think Russia has the assets to close more than two or three RAF airfields. Russia’s cold-war airfields on the Kola peninsula have mostly fallen into disrepair. Their few remaining Bears, Backfires, and Blackjacks operate from reduced numbers of bases, and have to fly further to targets in the UK. They have about 24 active subs in their North Sea Fleet, but only half of those can fire land attack cruise missiles and all are focused on naval targets. They do have a handful of large surface combatants capable of cruise missile attack. In short, Russia’s ability to threaten… Read more »

Peter
Peter
2 months ago

That’s what the Swedish Air Force have done for over 50+ years hence all their jets have STOL capabilities as the first thing any enemy does is to make sure any airfield is destroyed. Using the road network, you’re no longer limited to where you can land and take off even in dense forest with popup airbases . Just wonder why the UK haven’t done this already.

Barday
Barday
2 months ago

Not a new idea, goes back to the 1960s.