At 0200 UK time this morning, British forces joined close Allies in a precision strike on Syrian installations involved in the regime’s use of chemical weapons.

The strike was launched as a response to the chemical weapon attack on the 7th of April in Douma which killed up to 75 people, including young children; a significant body of information, including intelligence, indicates that the Syrian regime was responsible for this latest attack.

Four Royal Air Force Tornado’s took off this morning from RAF Akrotiri to conduct strikes in support of Operations over the Middle East.

According to a government statement:

“As the Prime Minister has made clear, this pattern of behaviour must be stopped, not just to protect innocent people in Syria from these horrific weapons, but also because the erosion cannot be allowed of the international norms that prevent the use of chemical weapons.

Our action is proportionate, specifically aimed at degrading the regime’s ability to use chemical weapons and deterring further such appalling acts; it is therefore focused on regime facilities linked to the production and use of chemical weapons.”

The UK element of the coordinated joint action was contributed by four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s. They launched Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility – a former missile base – some fifteen miles west of Homs, where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors stockpiled in breach of Syria’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Careful analysis was applied to determine where best to target the Storm Shadows to maximise the destruction of the stockpiled chemicals and to minimise any risks of contamination to the surrounding area. The facility which was struck is located some distance from any known concentrations of civilian habitation, reducing yet further any such risk according to officials.

Two of four RAF Tornados prepare to take-off from Akrotiri.

Detailed analysis of the effectiveness of the strike is currently underway, but initial indications are that the precision of the Storm Shadow weapons and meticulous target planning have resulted in a successful attack say the MoD.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“The reprehensible use of chemical weapons in Douma is further evidence of the Syrian regime’s appalling cruelty against its own people. We will not stand by whilst innocent civilians, including women and children, are killed and made to suffer.

The international community has responded decisively with legal and proportionate military force. Let these united actions send a clear message to the regime – the use of chemical weapons is categorically unacceptable and you will be held to account.”

 

252 COMMENTS

  1. What’s the load out on that tornado? 2 storm Shadow I can see and a paveway? Cant tell if the other is ammram or some sort of pod

    • Paveway?

      Jamming Pod outer Pylon /Fuel Tanks / Asraam ( I think? ) / Storm Shadow under fuselage.

      I don’t believe our GR4 carry AMRAAM, that is not their mission.

      • This BBC report (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43763605) has a photo (the first one) of one of the Tornados from a different angle. Maybe I’m mistaken but it looks to me to be carrying 2 Storm Shadow, one on each of the heavy duty underxfuselage pylons. According to Wikipedia this is a within-specification load. The first photo in the body of the article might confirm this – I think I can see a second Storm Shadow on the far side of the fuselage visible if you look beyond where that red tape is hanging down near the nose wheel.

        If it was 2 x SS each and 4 planes that would be the U.K. delivering 8 missiles. The news reports that I’ve read talk about the overall strike being about 100 missiles so, assuming Astute didn’t launch any Tomahawk, that would be the U.K. delivering about 8% of the total strike. Given that the French were there too, and both of us being in the massive shadow of Uncle Sam, that seems quite a respectable contribution.

        • Seems reasonable in case 1 Missile goes U/S

          Also they might not all have launched there might have been spares in case the aircraft itself had to abort.

          UK contributed plenty I’m sure, not just offensively but other stuff behind the scenes.

        • Apparently the UK launched 8 and France launched 12. Each of the four UK Tornado aircraft fired two Storm Shadow missiles each.

          • (Chris H) I would be very surprised if the Astute sub we have there wasn’t used to add Tomahawks to the attacks. It would be an ideal proof of concept and equipment. Nothing like firing in anger to see how well something works.

            So I suspect that the UK fired more than those 8 Storm Shadows but given we never comment on submarine deployments or activities whatever the Astute did will forever be only known in command and boat logs

          • Chris it did not. All the assets used for the attack have now been disclosed. The UK contributed 8 Storm Shadows in total.

            The only submarine that took part was a US one.

      • i see comrade corbyn (a bigger threat to the u.k than russia) has begun his pathetic , simpering pacifist drivel already, this, from a p.m wannabe, shows the labour party has totally lost the plot, they should remove him.

    • We are governed by idiots and fools,i hope a stray Russian missile hits the Houses of Parliament i for one wouldn’t give a monkeys toss.

        • What! and we aren’t heading in that direction now?The Syrians have a perfect right to defend themselves being a sovereign country so when then do retaliate with whatever means at their disposal including buying Russian or Chinese or North Korean missiles this won’t escalate is that what you are saying,Jesus Christ man you are deluded beyond belief

      • What an ill-judged comment Marc. We have just witnessed yet another deployment of chemical weaponry, the most horrifying form of warfare. In a nuclear exchange, most people within 20 miles will die almost immediately but with a chemical/germ weapon; thousand will suffer the most horrendous death, which for many will be a slow lingering one. By demonstrating an international will to physically punish those who use these hideous systems, we can deter others who believe they can be used with impunity.

        Thank goodness there are some countries who will punish those who care little for the suffering of innocents and stand up to bullies.

        • Absolute bullshit no evidence for a chemical attack whatsoever apart from a dopey video ,they didn’t even give the inspectors time to get to the alleged attack because they were terrified their rhetoric would prove to be utter tripe,not to worry you got to test the Storm Shadow at £700000 a pop and the Daily Mail did lovely graphic depictions which you lot probably enjoy.

          • So what would you do Marc in the face of foreign chemical attacks? Either at home ( Salisbury) or abroad

          • For crying out loud if it was proven beyond all reasonable doubt of course do what has to be done but the evidence or proof of guilt is not there in the two instances you have given .

          • English born and bred and proud of it at least i was until a few years ago when we were sold out by the establishment and it’s ilk bought lock stock and barrel by the Saudis and Qataris now i fight for what is close to me and nothing else .

      • “The UK Government and our closest allies bombed chemical weapons facilities in response to a chemical weapon attack so I really wish a foreign power would bomb our parliament”…

        • Haven’t we learnt any lesson at all from Iraq,Afghanistan,Libya?the Islamics have no idea nor the slightest interest in democracy you cannot bomb it into them or spend trillions thinking this largesse will change them how many times must the west immerse itself in the middle eastern quagmire before we see sense?

          • (Chris H) Can I remind everyone of a valid piece of advice someone once gave me:

            “Feedeth not the Troll”

          • “Feedeth not the Troll” someone really gave you that advice did they who was it Laurence Olivier?

          • Marc are you sitting in Moscow or Damascus. You are obviously on a payroll. They did wrong, they got caught out and I’m glad we did something about it. Something Obama should have done. Tell you pay masters to give their heads a shake with the Rhetric. They shit down how many and no pictures? We told them what we were targeting and yet no pictures from Moscow showing that we failed. Great job by all. Marc give your head a shake and go back to your pay masters becouse none of us are buying the utter shite you have cone out with.

  2. So the coalition now know where the radar sites are for the Syrian SAMs and their operating parameters.
    That’s handy.
    It would appear from reports that the Russian systems stayed down and offline. I have no doubt that there where a number of Rivet Joints up itching to do some Sigint against the Russian systems if they came online.
    Its not just the strikes that count its the whole reaction from the opposition before during and after that will be watched , monitored recorded and analysed for future use, should it be needed.

    • I agree.

      The really interesting bit no one gets to see and certainly which the news channels will make little mention.

      Our R1’s excelled at ELINT rather than SIGINT or COMINT I read so hope the Rivet’s are of the same standard, or better.

      JSSU (C) on the doorstep listening in too.

    • Hi Gunbuster
      Syrian airspace is heavily monitored by a variety of systems both airborne, seaborne and elsewhere. The Russians are currently using it as a testbed for a variety of weapon systems under the guise of supporting the Assad regime in its battle with their own people.
      It is also very conveniently off the coast of Cyprus – as Daniele has pointed out above, we put JSSU units in strategic locations and this one is definitely one of those.

      Over the next couple of weeks, when this calms down a bit and the site goes back to talking about platforms and what they can do you will start hearing more things about Fusion and network enabled capabilities.
      Legacy systems were very “hub and spoke” reporting everything back to a central control point before that central control passes the information on (the legacy E-3 was one of those hubs)
      Network enabled platforms share and process information seamlessly, a fused network if you like. What is also happening is that the information is being analysed with results passed directly to the user allowing them to make decisions on the spot. The UK is currently in the process of receiving platforms specifically designed with this fusion in mind. F-35 is a game changer, not just in stealth capabilities but in so many other ways, personally i would have preferred the C model but with the B the RN are going to get a real leap in ability to fuse data and generate real effect.
      The RAF want the A, FCAS may get moved to the right to facilitate this – the French have already complained and started to work with the Germans on their own UCAV.

      • I have plenty of experience of sigint from being on a Batch 2 T22. Lots of stuff done on board but plenty of it going over the satcom back to the UK for other agencies to look at and analyse.
        RN units have had data fusion in various forms and in various guises of Link over the years. Add into that CSS and all the other networked systems that Int comes over and the picture you get in the pod room is pretty comprehensive.
        I wasn’t going to mention the units in the SBA on Cyprus or at the airfield. In previous years when I have called in their there have been some interesting things taking off from there and not all of the RAF. Still it keeps the sneaky beakys busy

        • Fascinating stuff gunbuster. Sure you cannot go into details, you’ve probably been to Leydene building RN wise.

          The varied facilities on Cyprus and the units housed in them are well documented so no secrets spilled there if one knows what to look for. 9 Reg was in the news as far back as the mid 80s with the KGB spies scandal.
          A place in Lincolnshire will be involved with this Syria business too, and I don’t mean the River Joints.

  3. Looks like a very limited attack and we trod very carefully around Russia. It all smacks of there being agreements made behind the scenes with Russia, whilst the rhetoric in the public domain staying strong and confrontational. That way neither side looks weak. I’m not sure what last night has really achieved. The Syrians has plenty of notice to hide their planes and move any chemical weapons. I was in two minds if we should get involved, but if you do something you do it properly. I think Russia is mostly bluster and empty threats, this was a chance to push them a bit and show the world that, lessening their future leverage on situations.
    Or maybe that would be reckless, I don’t know!

    • I agree entirely. Backchannel working well.

      This way no one loses face. The west was seen to take action, with little real effect but that is not the point, and the Russians can strut around acting tough. Putin said little so does not lose face either, but wins ultimately as Assad and Russia remain in Syria, which is fine by me actually as I agree with Sole’s comments on the wider geopolitical game being played here.

      As Gunbuster said above with the A400 systems remaining turned off that hardly fits the previous Russian rhetoric either. But they know as well as anyone the wests capabilities in that field, their profiles would be logged and stored at Waddington for future use.

      I wonder also if we have cyber capability to turn them off or jam. It would not surprise me.

      I would not push Russia, I really wouldn’t. It is not worth it.

      I hope this whole thing dies down now.

      • Don’t entirely agree. I think the Russians have lost a lot of credibility here. The West has reached its line in the sand with Russian lies and deceit and they have called Putins bluff with these strikes. There may well have been some prior discussion with Russia but it looks like the conversation went something like… “there will be strikes against Syria whether you like it or not; so do you want to really want your S400 sites destroyed as well?”.

        • Here’s essentially what happened we bombed a few relatively useless buildings at a Syrian base. Just like last year I might add. Russia will feel no need to escalate in retaliation. So they will do what they did last year and bomb a few Kurds.
          None of the Big Boys get truly damaged. Just not a good day to be a proxy of either East or West.

      • Calm down Andy, nuking anyone would be irresponsible insanity. We need to change the behaviour of Assad’s leadership in Syria, not obliterate millions, give most of the rest a slow agonising death, future generations early deaths & genetic abnormalities; that’s hoping it wouldn’t start a wider nuclear exchange.

        It’s a very tricky situation, but we must deter & punish chemical weapons use. Russia obviously will continue to block any UN action against Assad & spin it as our fault. I just hope any action we take will not be just a token response. Trump as POTUS is ridiculous enough, a wild card. Meanwhile the Saudi led coalition bomb Yemen into the stone age.

        As for people posting ” unwelcome” views here, we must remember we live in a country with free speech, consider others views, make opur arguments intelligently with some respect & avoid trying to bully those we disagree with from posting. Yes there are trolls, yes there are Putin bots, but accusing everybody who disagrees as such is histrionic paranoia.

  4. And we get an uplift in defence budget as the only positive thing to out of it!
    Your probably right about not provoking Russia, I just hate their over inflated ego, the way they manipulate the world with under hand tactics and their overt machoism. If they are to ever be reigned in they must be shown to provide empty threats and not the power they purvey.

  5. Just out of interest, does anyone know if the US carrier strike group had arrived? If not, what is the purpose of sending it? Maybe there are bigger plans ahead we don’t yet know about, but hopefully just an insurance policy if Russia had responded…

    • The US carrier group is 5-7 days away from getting to Europe. Regardless, it was never coming in response to Syria. It is on a regular, very long scheduled deployment to the Med/Gulf region.

    • since obama recalled all u.s carriers to port there hasn’t been a full carrier battle group in the med. the french, escorting charles de gaulle have a presence towards thee astern end . i’d expect matters are in hand to gather and deploy one as soon as they can get it organised. cyprus is in effect a battle group by itself. protected on land by nato, at sea by italy and france and by air, everyone. including israel.

      • Simply not true. Stop quoting unsubstantiated gossip. The incident you are talking about, there was one carrier deploying at the time, it was simply an unfortunate period where the US carrier scedule had the majority of them at home. Nothing to do with Obama.

        As for deployments, the US simply does not keep a carrier permanently in the Med. A US carrier normally covers both the Med and Gulf, been in the latter the majority of the time.

    • I thought the US 6th fleet was always in the Med & was surprised it was not immediately available for strikes. Trump giving such early notice that we would attack is appallingly stupid, giving the Russians & Syrians plenty of time to minimise losses & prepare defenses.

      • 6th Fleet is always in the Mediterranean. What it doesn’t have is a permanently assigned carrier, it shares a CSG with Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean operations area due to the Sues Canal. This is because of the Italian and Spanish Harrier carriers, the Charles De Gaule, and formerly the RN Harrier carriers, being seen as sufficient Air assets in theater. 6th fleet permanently assigned assets are CGs, DDGs, and SSNs. Add to this the ability to shift B1s filled with anti-surface missiles to the bases in Italy and Sicily or to Diego Garcia and Bahrain to cover the other end of Suez and the Indian Ocean in an emergency. Then finally CSGs tend to go where needed regardless of normally assigned assets.

        Minimization of losses especially casualties were the point. Unless of course you want T-90s and T-14s parked in Kiev or the Baltic States capitals.If you do want that you are dangerously naive. Secretary Mattis is the one who advised that. Hence why the Secretary of Defense said it was a one off for now.

  6. The final analysis of successful strikes against their intended targets will be interesting to see.

    Quote.

    “Syria: Air defenses shot down many missiles
    The Russian news agency RIA added “over 100 cruise missiles and air to ground missiles were launched by the air and sea missile carriers of USA, France and the UK, aimed at military and civilian objects of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

    The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported government forces “confronted on Saturday a tripartite aggression launched by the US, France and Britain on a number of sites in the surroundings of Damascus and Homs.”

    Targets included a research center in Barzeh and warehouses for the Syrian army in Homs, SANA said.

    Air defenses over Homs “intercepted several missiles and downed them,” it added.

    “The missiles that targeted a military site in Homs have been intercepted to change their track and cause the injury of three civilians.”

    A building containing scientific labs and centers in Barzeh was destroyed, the report added.

    Separately, Russian state-run outlet Sputnik said the majority of missiles launched against Syria were intercepted by air defenses.

    According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Sputnik said, Syria repelled the Western attack using air defense systems made in the Soviet Union, including the S-125, BUK, and S-200″.

    • Were these missiles targetting Homs Tomahawk, MdCn or Storm Shadow? Lools like the defences claim to have scrambled the GPS guidance and/or image recognition guidance on some of these missiles. Big difference between several and ‘the majority’ unless the actual number was small.

      • Paul – Yes. All three countries used their most modern cruise missiles. The claim quoted here is from a Syrian/Russian news channel. No way did a bunch of old SAMs operated by Syrian shoot down even a fraction of 100+ modern cruise missiles.

        • Would I be right in thinking a numerically large attack can overwhelm an older missile defence radar? I’m no expert on the capabilties of the systems the Russians have sold the Syrians.

  7. The BBC report shows a French tweet of one of its frigates launching a cruise missile. That must have been the French maritime version of Storm Shadow (MdCN) fired from a FREMM’s Sylver A70. That got me thinking about options for what the U.K. does when Tomahawk production stops.

    SPEAR 4 & 5 seems to following the same pattern as SPEAR 2 & 3. SPEAR 2 was an update to Brimstone until SPEAR 3 delivers the next generation weapon, similarly SPEAR 4 will be an update to Storm Shadow until SPEAR 5 hopefully delivers the next generation cruise missile. MdCN can already be torpedo tube launched and is carried on French subs. Perhaps the SPEAR 4 program can be scoped (perhaps it already is) to not only add stuff like 2 way datalink but also do whatever mods and testing are necessary to certify it for Mk41 launch so that it could be an option for T26 and also ensure it can be certified for Astute launch.

    Would that make any sense or is Storm Shadow/SCALP/MdCN going to be too far behind the curve, even with the SPEAR 4 refresh, by the time we get to the years running up to SPEAR 5 delivering a missile ready for deployment?

    One advantage would be that we certainly wouldn’t call our naval version MdCN so we would have another opportunity to make up a new name for a missile :-). (We don’t tend to rename US stuff as much I think.)

    • I hope & pray the MOD has something better than a long capability gap in such a primary escort weapon that anti-ship missiles is. They’ve allowed several glaring gaps before, which doen’t bode well. Our personel must have the kit necessary for modern warfare, not be deployed in vessels partly disarmed. They’ve extended the deployment of harpoon for the time being, but who in their right mind even considers removing them with no immediate replacement? At the absolate least we should buy off the shelf new Harpoons or other ASMs until our own new ASMs are servicable.
      Does any other navy pull these stunts on their warships?

  8. Sadly, Russia has won again, this is an extremely weak response from the western allies. This will only encourage Russia and her allies to operate in any manner they see fit. The longer a real response is delayed the worse it will be.

      • With all respect you are assuming they think as us, megalomaniacs who believe the break-up of the USSR was a mistake do not – they have there own agenda, that should be obvious.

        • I concur with dadsarmy. I think this time Russia and Syria will restrain themselves on CW.

          I will be much more worried if they do it again, because then limited action won’t be the end of it.

          Whilst I like very much the Russian people, the state has a long history of blaming others for its crimes and cheating the system; Katyn, Cuba, Dead Hand, Sochi, CW and on.

    • Disagree. I would not be surprised if the chemical attack was committed by rogue troops. I don’t think we can assume Assad is in control of all his men. What was needed was a prompt school caning and this is what handed out.

        • Frankly I have no idea. Could troops with piloting skills and Turkish or Islamist sympathies be present in the Syrian army and threaten or bribe their commanders? Absolutely.

          • That said I accept that the most likely actors were authorised by Assad or a senior commander as a grotesque calculation that any response by the US and allies would be a price worth paying for gaining ground against the opposition. That is the pattern of Assad behaviour.

      • That is kinda an elephant in the room, but Assad is all about control & I’m sure he would have made it deadly, painfully clear to his minions if he didn’t want any use of chemical weapons. I can’t see it happening so often if he did not allow it.

        Now we need to hope & pray Putins threats against us are just bluster as our armed forces are at a very low ebb. Cuts & capability gaps will come home to haunt us.

    • The strikes had little to no effect. But as far as Russia goes, they completely failed to respond. Their SAMs stayed offline. They have been completely humiliated by NATO after all their talk of responding.

    • I respectfully disagree. Russia was put into the position of being a spectator on the sidelines. They had to move their military assets out of harms way and take what was coming – however small it was. The air defence system they gave to Syria was completely useless – despite the claims of success by the Syrians.

  9. Well, there’s been some balance to other events in Cold War terms, but the one that hasn’t been balanced is Syria, where Putin gained a huge propoganda victory over Syria and the chemical weapons. This should be seen as a counter-coup, and accepted as such by Putin, an old Cold War warriror, with the 3 western leaders having no previous experience of that.

    And sad to say, since Cameron was defeated in the Commons, May was absolutely right to bypass it completely – and this is me, a “nat” talking. But I think, if this all blows over, and Putin should just accept this, make rude noises, but move on, that these events seen though the prism of history analysed from 10 years hence, will be seen as the right move, at the right time.

    Balance is vital, and May’s moderate but firm language used is 100% spot on.

    As a Nat, I can’t believe I said that 🙁

  10. It was interesting to me to see the platform used by our aircrews after posting a comment a little over an hour prior to the breaking news of the strike on Syrian targets at the bottom the F-35 development phase concludes article.

    Did we, or our allies, use stealth aircraft to deliver any of the weapons used in this latest attack? Or, did the risk of being shot down by the Russian S400 air defence system take this option off the table?

    My understanding is, that Storm Shadow can only be fitted to our ageing Tornado fleet which is to be retired en mass at the end of this year.

    • Storm Shadow is being integrated onto Typhoon under Project Centurion, along with Brimstone, so that when Tornado leaves service, both weapons will be available for use by Typhoon.

    • The Americans have classified Stealth aircraft other than F35 /F22 / B2, mainly in the ISTAR field, often UAV’s with long held rumours of other manned systems.

      A platform purely for ISTAR and not an offensive system could be a lot stealthier.

      If they used any of them in the run up, during, or after the strikes to monitor events in real time no one knows, but would not surprise me.

      The issue with GR4 retirement is not a loss of capability but of numbers, as it will be some time until sufficient F35 are on stream to replace them.

      Extra Typhoon squadrons are being formed to keep squadron numbers current but they are using existing aircraft, so not an increase, but another cut, sadly, at least in the short term.

    • Storm shadow can be launched from both Tornado and Typhoon.

      There is no need to use stealth aircraft when you can achieve the job by launching very accurate and hard to hit cruise missiles from standoff range outside of enemy air defenses.

  11. Oh for Christ’s sake, I was hoping we’d think clearly and avoid this mess. Thanks Mrs May, way to make the military even more unpopular when we had the perfect opportunity to turn military expenditure into a vote winner

    • I don’t think that’s the case Levi. We don’t like being attacked, especially at home, and I suspect the average voter reckons a bully needs a smack rather then just being left to get away with it.

      • To the average voter who doesn’t know much about military affairs this smacks of nation building in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya

        • You may be right but the attitude I witness every day at work or at the pub for a pint is not nation building but more along the lines of “B…..d’s, who the hell do they think they are? They need sorting out” Iraq etc. might not have been popular (me included) but this is an attack that took place on British streets. it’s different.

  12. See that Corbyn is saying it should have been a vote in the commons
    Below is what i wrote on another page so i copied ans am pasting it
    And if you read it imagine what the vote would be with the commie lover in charge of the labour party
    ” All this Syria stuff could have been stopped in its tracks had the Labour leader of the time had backed PM Cameron on a no-fly zone in 2013
    He said he was which gave the hope that he would side with the government and when it came to the vote he would not back Cameron (i bet Corbyn had something to do with it no doubt)
    Because the British didn’t back a no-fly zone the Americans decided against going it alone
    That war could have been stopped before it really got started
    So you can blame the Labour party for all the trouble and with the pro-russion leader of the party we have in charge now god forbid if the people are daft enough to vote him in”
    And before you shoot me down im not a lover of the Tories but by god whilst a man like Corbyn in charge in i will never vote for them again
    I do like one of the comments i heard that labour said that the majority of the people dont want military action and that MPs should do what the public wants But i dont see that regarding the brexit vote!!!!!! But thats no t what this is about so i wont go on about that

    • ‘That war could have been stopped before it really got started’

      I think it was well underway by then. Incidentally one of the BBC’s correspondent’s said that if the Russians hadn’t intervened in 2012 IS would have defeated Assad and taken over Syria. I’m no fan of either Assad or Putin but we shouldn’t be myopic about the confused situation there. Putin’s playing the cold war tough guy, of course, but he didn’t want the spreading of IS in areas close to his southern borders.

      • If Daesh had defeated Assad, arguably that would have been a better outcome, as their subsequent routing would have been much simpler than the multitude of players in Syria now. Daesh are now a spent force to all intents and purposes. Assad, with Russia and Iran heavily involved, unfortunately is here for a bit longer.

  13. I suggest we up our security at our borders, as the Russians/Syrians, may strike back indirectly, by releasing captured Daesh & giving them tickets/false documents/weapons & sending them in the direction of the UK/France. Then they could say after a terrorist atrocity “See we told you the jihadists were the real threat”. Good KGB/FSB propaganda.

    • I guess it’s possible.

      Sadly HMG is very good at letting them in already, complete with access to benefits and a council house, while our war veterans get what exactly?

      The Security service is said to be monitoring directly or indirectly over 3000 people, including Jihadists who went to Syria to fight with IS and can somehow magically come back here and continue as if nothing had happened. Quite amazing.

      Concerning Russia though, it has been said for some time that the Security Service has been devoting too much of its resource into International terrorism and not enough on the more traditional counter espionage role, which has continued unabated after the end of the Cold War and is only increasing.

      More emphasis into this area may now be needed, by BSS and Special Branch.

      • Yes, Britain should stop UK real estate/property from being owned by anonymous companies in tax havens. Likewise, the UK should not grant planning permission to tax haven companies wanting to develop greenfield sites. If land is worth £20k an acre without planning permission, but £2 million an acre with planning permission, then the potential for corruption is obvious, except to several UK governments that have refused to bring in transparency.
        How do we know if Putin & his gangster cronies are profiting from the UK housing bubble?

  14. It is going to be interesting to see how Russia now counter acts, it clearly will.

    I suspect it won’t be an aggressive military action, so probably involving moving more troops and hardware to Syria or the European borders, plus maybe some increased flybys.

    I think it is pretty clear that this was all agreed in advance with Russia, considering the gap between announcing and taking action.

    • Afternoon
      They may do as they did before, show their toys off, in Syria against “terrorists” at the invitation of the legitimate government of Syria – The Assad puppet regime

  15. What a shocking waste of taxpayers’ hard earned cash expended on something which has nothing to do with Britain. Is this country always going to be a lap dog to the USA?

    • No, it will always be a member of the UNSC P5 which carries its own responsibilities.

      The UK makes its own decisions. But your last sentence gives away your true issues…this countries foreign policy which so often reflects that of the USA and our other allies.

    • Wow. Are you sort of guy who would see someone getting mugged in the street or a woman about to be raped in a dark alley and walk on by saying “it’s not my job to try and help people, there are police and other emergency services that do that”.

      I’ll admit that foreign interventions have often been ill thought through but that does not mean that countries of good conscience should stand by when others are being brutalised on a mass scale and leaving it all to the USA to do something about is pathetic to say the least. Every country that can play its part should play its part even if it is only a small part.

      I’m not 100% convinced that this particular intervention will be effective so it could be criticised on the grounds of not being the best response but to criticise it solely on the basis that it was an operation aimed at doing something to stop someone else’s continued suffering as opposed to that of one of our own’s is the attitude that I really object to.

    • Afternoon TH
      Always a pleasure to hear your musing on world events and there relation to money.
      I think you will find this has more to do with the breaking of international law (use of chemical weapons) than being the lap dog of the USA.
      But then, you don’t seem to be keen on facts – keep blogging though, doesn’t cost a penny

  16. I’m beginning to wonder if Tornado end date should be pushed back. I get that Typhoon numbers are intended to cover the shortfall, but this workhorse continues to be at the heart of our air power. Maybe there’s an argument for keeping them on a while longer?

    • One issue is that the build up of extra Typhoon Squadrons is dependent on the air and ground crews from the Tornado units moving over to Typhoon, so keeping one fleet on going directly effects the build up of the other.

      12 ( B ) Squadron has already disbanded.

      I do not know what state the aircraft are in or the costs logistically of keeping them going?

    • Tornado is at the end of its service life. The air frames are knackered and need to be retired.

      Typhoon can take over the job in the meantime until we get the F35 and FCAS.

      • (Chris H) Ben P – well said. The Typhoon is on a long term upward curve of capability and is on schedule to replace the Tonka next year. And not only replace but add significant new capabilities, options and flexibilities only that come with Typhoon

        Where I would gently diverge is that F-35 (especially in ‘B’ format) will not be and was never intended to be a replacement for the Tonka. It can’t be and yet I see this myth peddled on here quite often. It brings back what the RAF lost with the Harrier, brings 5th Gen full carrier strike capability to the Andrew and brings 5th Gen suppression and initial strike assets we have never had before. F-35 with Typhoon is a unique and possibly the most effective strike package of any nation outside the USA. And then only because they have sheer numbers of other assets

      • Hi Ben, until recently, the original plan was to keep Tornado running until 2025.
        The current withdrawal date of 2019 was always suspected to be in response to budgetary pressures.
        I’ve not heard the airframes are suffering from critical fatigue issues, but happy to read any sources you may have on the topic ……

        • Afraid not. The Tornado was supposed to go out of service in 2016. The air frames are close to 40 years old. The only reason it was delayed by a couple years was to wait for the Typhoon to be capable of taking on its role due to Syria/Iraq. Which with Brimstone and Storm Shadow been implemented by next year it allows the Tornado to finally go. Also we have had less than 30 Tornados in service for awhile.

          • Hi Ben,
            Yes – but until SDSR 2010, the OSD date of the Tornado GR4 force was anticipated to be around 2025. And of course, not all the airframes are 40 years old – the IDS production-run for the RAF ran on until about 1990.
            It’s performance at medium altitude has always been a bit lumbering, but in terms of capability – Tornado and its aircrew are at the top of their game.
            The premature withdrawal of the force will put pressure on the Typhoon – those seven squadrons are going to be worked very hard, until the F-35 gains full operational capability in RAF service.
            There is certainly an argument for the RAF running Tornado into the 2020s – just as the Germans, Italians and Saudis are doing.

          • Ben/Alan I’m pretty sure that late in the Tornado production run the Govt/Mod offered the RAF an additional 48 Aircraft due to attrition levels at that time plus replacements for the losses in GW1.The RAF turned down this offer to guarantee funds for the forthcoming Typhoon programme,i wonder if they would have done the same now,we certainly would have more available today and service into the 2020’s would be more viable.

          • It was a mistake to run the Tornado FGT4 force down prematurely; there was an option to carry out a relatively modest upgrade programme to keep them flying until 2025 or later.

            The result, however it is dressed-up with talk of the two additional Typhoon squadrons, has just been another significant cut in the number of fast jet combat aircraft. Before the game of musical chairs started, we had 8 squadrons with 200 aircraft, 72 Tornado, 128 Typhoon. When the music stops later this year, we will have 7 squadrons with at most 140 aircraft (excluding the initial F-35s that won’t be flying operationally for a few years).
            The 7 Typhoon squadrons will in truth be well under peacetime establishment, with 140 rather than 170 aircraft in total.
            While some of the Tornado air and ground crews will switch to the Typhoon and a handful to the F-35, most will not be flying a FJCA again.
            It is a deliberate financial cut in capability and manning. There was a quiet announcement in late 2017 that 16 Tranche 1 2-seat trainer versions were being withdrawn from service. They were perfectly capable in the air defence/QRA role, would have kept the Typhoon force at closer to establishment level and would have served until F-35 numbers had grown sufficiently. But no, the bean-counters at HMT and in the MOD were in like a rat in a barrel of cheese, making more ‘savings’ (aka cuts) in platforms and personnel to please their political masters. All pretty shabby and disappointing really.

  17. I am on record as thinking that we had no legal basis to attack the Syrian State itself but I wait to be convinced. That is distinct from attacking DAESH wherever the evil bastards are.

    However now that British Forces have been committed to action my personal beliefs do not matter any more and I stand full square behind the PM, the MoD and the lads and lasses doing what they do best. While I was sceptical I have to say Theresa May seems to grow in capability and stature with every major catastrophe, problem or drama she has had to face. And sadly she has had more than her fair share.

    What is REALLY sickening is that the Peacenick, CND Luvvie and Commie card carrying idiot that is the Leader of Her Majesty’s (not so) Loyal Opposition simply cannot stop looking for every party political point scoring opportunity and is even now banging on like some 18 year old student at Aldermaston. It is utterly frightening to think this man seeks to have HIS finger on that big red nuclear button so he can say ‘NO!’. That we have had to to do this at all can be squarely blamed on Corbyn’s immediate predecessor who also played party politics with the Nation’s security when he should have stood behind the PM. (For those who may have forgotten his name was Milliband).

    I look forward to Monday when Mrs May will make a statement to Parliament and I feel she will make Corbyn look the total numbnuts he is as she will nail him for the shouty screeching loonie leftie he is. I hope the electorate will take note.

      • Chris….I think many regularly on here can tell, I certainly could!
        Posters all have a certain way with words.

          • Chris a great post regarding our current leader of the opposition but unfortunately our then PM was also totally out of his depth. Remember his well judged Libyan intervention, which has led to the disintegration of that country. If we had created a no fly zone then ISIS would have won in Syria and we would have had to intervened on the ground. Let Syria have their civil war, however, sad it is to see but let’s not get involved.
            But the use of chemical weapons in that war must and has been punished. Let’s hope they get the message.

    • I think you are correct. I suspect the action was illegal under international law. My grandmother used to say two wrongs don’t make a right. That said the question should really be was the action morally right? And I think here the answer is yes. Corbyn is wittering on about parliamentary votes and legality. Fact is sometimes in life you have to trust your feelings in light of the best info you have. Russia is the reason the legal authorisarion cannot be obtained for a morally correct action.

    • I think you’re deluded Chris, you seem to be in this bubble of certainty that the opposition must back the government as soon as there is talk of military action. Military action isn’t some big happy sing song where the nation gets together and holds hands. Peoples sons and daughter’s are being sent into a war zone without UN approval and without the general public’s approval.

      Here is the only times I can think off that the PM should have the sole decision to authorise military action, self defence or a treaty obligation. There is one reason why Theresa May never put it to Parliament, because she is a coward, she was scared of defeat.

      Just like Ken Clarke said, this isn’t any of them this is government policy and parliament should have been recalled and it should of been debated all day and voted for in the evening, it’s those sort of days that make the British democratic system the best in the world.

      It’s this type of thinking why the handful of MPs from both parties who voted against the Iraq war were splashed onto a dartboard as traitors in a national newspaper.

      I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed watching the videos etc, it’s good to see action from a British military point of view and some of the comments here are excellent about last nights attack from a military perspective but we also have to be realistic, it has achieved absolutely nothing, the air strikes were telegraphed to the Russians so they have had ample time to accommodate, there is no pat on the back for Theresa May here, the war hasn’t been ended, Assad is still there, and there can be no way of knowing if or how much of a stockpile of weapons were destroyed.

      So you want to praise Theresa May for what exactly? All I can see is she has blindly followed the most hated US president from a British view in history into military action without UN approval or without a vote in Parliament.

      • Thersa May could well have reined in Macron and Trump so the mission was proportionate, justifiable and not inflammatory. She is a clear thinker on moral issues. Benefits of being a vicar’s daughter. Hence Trump’s comment regarding the ‘wisdom’ of US allies.

        • Theresa May can reign in Donald Trump 😂

          Come on Paul you don’t really believe that do you?

          “She is a clear thinker on moral issues”

          She has voted 10 times against human rights, 6 times against the fox hunting ban, 3 times against equality and human rights, 10 times for reducing housing benefit, 5 times against raising benefits with inflation, 36 times for reduction in welfare, 6 times against a bankers bonus tax, and 4 times against measures to stop privatisation of the NHS.

          Yeah she’s a clear thinker all right.

          • I would say that is relatively moderate voting record. Even to a liberal voting record.
            What right do you have to a extra slice of someone’s bonus.
            The welfare is overly generous and both discourages working. While also devaluing the worth of other’s labor by causing unnecessary inflation.
            What right do you have to say do not hunt foxes? If you were a man who grew up on a working farm you would know the damn things are pests. This in addition to it is the farmers land not yours they payed the taxes on it.
            Human rights? Universal jurisdiction is the excuse of moral proselytizing ingrates to criticize their fellow man. While carrying their cross up the hill saying look how much moral I am than you.

          • Foxes are a pest. Is exercise and practising horsemanship any worse than shooting practice and laying down poison? I take the point that it can bring out the worst in some people. The best solution is the way the French hunt boars. Go to Mass, hunt and eat what you kill…say grace and give thanks for your food. The hunter bows down to the prey because although he is stronger he understands he is dependent on the prey. The American native Indians understand this better than we modern folks.
            Not getting into a debate on the NHS- wrong forum. That said I accept that mutualisation is a sound principle for a community to fund its health care but that does not translate to a a rather incestuous monopoly. Why is ther NHS stopping parents taking their children abroad for treatment?
            ‘Equality’ is a misleading principle for organising things the way you want rather than the more efficient and sustainable way nature intended.
            And rights come with responsibilities which are seldom debated at the same time!

          • Lads I’m going to the pub to watch the national, I didn’t want to start a debate about fox hunting Ffs 😂

            I was trying to say, a lot of people would think the morally right thing to do was vote the other way on those subjects, I’m aware not everyone would.

      • Hi SoleSurvivor
        PM didn’t put it to parliament because she did not need to. Military action is a royal prerogative not a parliamentary one – I am more than happy to point people to the variety of websites that state this.
        I have my views on the PM, they are closer to yours than you may believe (my other posts should show this quite clearly) but the PM, on advice from ministers and crown servants has decided that the need to uphold international law should, every now and again be enforced.
        Hope the national was good, its final score for me though 🙂

        • Hi Lee

          I know she didn’t need to, but I know she didn’t put it to Parliament because she would lose.

          Ask yourself this, if Trump and Macron asked for assistance for a ground invasion would T May take it to Parliament, damn right she would, and every single PM in the future would as well. That ship has sailed, Tony Blair set the precedent in 2003 and it’s been followed every time military action has come up. Blair was the first, but it was the right thing to do and everyone agreed.

          Times change, this isn’t like back in the old days where a fallen soldier would be lucky to get in his local newspaper, just one fallen soldier in this day and age is a massive thing, headline news, Union Jack covered coffin videod coming off the plane and rightly so.

          And that’s why the precedent has been set that Parliament makes the ultimate decision for military action. And now there is a grey area, the PM can make a decision to order air strikes but they wouldn’t dream of using that same power for anything more like boots on the ground.

          MP’s from both sides have tried to bring legislation in to fix this and make parliament the ultimate decision maker but it gets kicked into the long grass by whoever is in charge because they don’t want to relinquish that control yet, even thought they know they should.

          Also the argument that she was voted in so it’s her decision because we voted for her is not really true because she was elected on a mandate that didnt include military intervention.

          The only time a PM should have that power imo is self defence and a treaty obligation.

          Anyway I lost an Ayrton Senna on the National, back home now few cans waiting for MOTD, that’s why I don’t watch final score 😉

          Have a good evening 👍

          • (Chris H) SoleSurvivor – Well thanks for totally misrepresenting what I have said and projecting a false conclusion to justify your confirmation bias.

            I would normally discuss disagreements with people but with you I really can not be bloody arsed ….

          • Chris I don’t think I have, I wouldn’t of commented but I’ve followed this closely the last few days and you have been one that has been totally against any action.

            But now because T May has done it you back her, that along with every single mention of T May on this forum over the last few months has been gushing with praise, its like you’re actively promoting her.

            Now that’s absolutely fine, if you want to do that then that’s up to you, but now most people will know that any opinion you ever give on the government is not impartial, therefore it’s pretty useless in an informed debate.

            Everybody is backing the men and women putting themselves in harms way that’s a given but T May hasn’t done any fighting, she was tucked up in bed in her pyjamas.

            You could of said, I don’t agree with T May on this one but the decision has been made so I am behind the men and women etc etc.

            Buy you wrote this

            “While I was sceptical I have to say Theresa May seems to grow in capability and stature with every major catastrophe, problem or drama she has had to face. And sadly she has had more than her fair share.”

            So as well as being “fully behind the PM” you think she has excelled herself all the while doing something you are against! Where is your integrity man.

            And then you go on a crazy rant about Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband, absolutely slating them for having the same opinion as you! But because they are on the opposite side of your heroes they are the devil incarnate and totally wrong about it.

            And they are playing party politics? I have never seen anyone lose all integrity and be so hypocritical all because of party politics than your comment here.

    • I do look forward to the day when T26 gives us additional options for cruise missile launches. I admit to some degree of sibling envy that France was able to launch from both aircraft and frigates whereas we were aircraft only. (France and the U.K. are allies, as in “brothers in arms”, hence the reference to “sibling envy”).

      Both France and U.K. could also have launched cruise missiles from subs had they wished so we are equal on that score.

      As Gunbuster pointed out above, weapons launched were only the visible part of the contributions each country made last night. The U.K. probably contributed quite a lot to sigint.

  18. Interesting to hear the Turkish Foreign Ministry describe the overnight strikes as an “appropriate response”. You could write a thesis on the changing dynamics of Turkish-Russian relations over the course of the Syrian civil war, another aspect of this breathtakingly complex conflict

      • I mean the depth of cooperation and deepening relations in the face of conflicting (and at times changing) positions on the human catastrophe next door, not to mention that fighter that got downed. It’s been quite something to watch unfold

    • Because Turkey wants the civil war to continue. Status quo relatively unchanged. This level of strike essentially gives them that. What they do not want is for a full intervention that would likely wipe out their proxies.

  19. Good afternoon all
    What an interesting 24 hrs for the wider world and the press, for U.K. military operations in the Eastern Med and Syria, apart from a change in deployed weapon system just another day supporting Op Shader.
    The bigger impact is always going to be the politics but from a military point of view what you are seeing are well planned operations being put into effect to reduce the enemies (in this case the Syrian military complex) ability to make weapons of mass destruction that they can use on there own people.
    The fact that this could be done so quickly shows how much forward planning has gone in to making sure operations like we have seen in the last 24hrs can be carried out with very little impact on overall worldwide operations. If we contrast this to the “heroic missions” RAF Tornados embarked on when they attacked Lybia you can again see that whilst the political impact has been worldwide, militarily it’s just another day.
    What we have seen though, as discussed in earlier posts how few nations can actually carry out these types of operations, at short notice, and more importantly sustain them if needs be.
    You will see the FAF have now entered the arena and it will be a challenge for them to sustain the momentum, if required in the short to medium term.
    The US are moving assets now to give them enough local assets to generate sufficient combat effect so that, if required they can mount further attacks.
    From the U.K. point of view, we have deployed precision weapons, with very little fanfare at specific targets. To do that takes a modern professional force who have full end to end combat support capabilities – something I may add, we can sustain for the medium to long term.
    As posts have mentioned above, the Tornado wasn’t the only assets the U.K. deployed last night, they are the ones in the news but to get the weapon to target takes more than just the aircraft to launch it.
    Lots of world news, lots of political ramifications but militarily just another day.
    When we talk about professional militaries we only have to look at our own to realise how lucky we are, underfunded yes, not always appreciated but just getting on with the job as tasked by the democratically elected government of the day who are using royal prerogative to authorise the missions – legally and ethically.

  20. Tornadoes carried two Storm Shadows each and counter measures pods (probably BOZ?). Rafales carried a single SCALP. The interesting thing is that Aquitaine fired a number of SCALP Navale from Sylver 70 VLS. Shame RN can’t do the same other than from submarines. Hopefully T26 will redress that. It would give us so much more flexibility and greater load-out… I’m guessing B-1s carried JASSMs. A USN destroyer or cruiser also fired Tomahawk. I suspect the majority of the missiles fired came from B-1s. This strike was obviously coordinated with the Russians to make sure ‘mistakes’ were not made although the exact timing was not communicated. Interesting that in return the Russians kept their GBADS switched off. Only the Syrian systems fought back. I think the strike was proportionate in nature and the right thing to do. It’s objective was very limited and not intended to influence the outcome of the civil war in any way. Also, plenty of time was given to both Russians and Syrians to vacate the areas targeted from vital equipment and personnel. If Assad persists in his policy of using banned weapon systems, next time we might react more quickly with less warning…

    • Yeah, exactly the comment I made further up about my friends envy (we are allies after all) that the French had the extra option of frigate-launched missiles. It also helps lessen the issue that Lee mentioned above about the FAF being able to sustain air operations. I 100% agree with you that I long for the day when T26 should, assuming we make sensible missile choices, give us an additional potential launch platform for cruise missiles.

      If a suitable ship is in the vicinity anyway then is a ship-launched cruise missile more cost-effective than an air-launched one? I imagine that a ship-launched missile itself is more expensive than its air-launched counterpart since it usually has an extra booster strapped to it (e.g. the French SCALP vs MdCN) but is than more than offset by avoiding the costs of fuel, airframe hours and other personnel costs to get an aircraft into launch position vs the ship where everything is already there?

      • Julian, the attractiveness of a frigate based capability is that the ship can loiter off the coast in international waters, available at short notice if and when the need arises. So does a submarine, but my view is that the greater the number of options the greater flexibility the country has. Aircraft will not always be available. They depend on nearby friendly air bases and usually the availability of air refuelling tankers. To my knowledge, there are no plans to integrate Storm Shadow on F-35 and therefore no means of launching such a strike from a Queen. This could change in the future of course. In an ideal world you would have a mixture of TLAM on Astutes and T-26 and Storm Shadow on Typhoon (once Tornado is gone) and F-35 on the Queens. I don’t agree with putting MK-41 VLS on T-45. I think instead we should spend the money on giving them an anti-ballistic missile capability and increasing the number of Sylver 50 VLS.

        • Spear 3/4/5 is the future for F-35s. Swarm attack with cheap(er) missiles is better than a single super dooper £5m missile.

          Akrotiri is a handy piece of sovereign UK territory. I’m sure there was far more activity than the 4 Tornadoes/ Eurofighters delivering Storm Shadows. ELINT must have been interesting and JSSU must have earned their pay. I don’t know what UAVs were in the air, but I’d be surprised if a few weren’t up watching the various responses. Not to mention E-3s, E-8s, P-8s, Sentinel and the whole sheebang of ISTAR assets. This was ringing the fire alarm in real time, and a great opportunity to see what happened.

          Then there are space based assets. But that is out of my league.

  21. I have Sky News on right now showing breaking news on a briefing by a US I assume general. He just ran through the weapons and platforms and there are some corrections as well as confirmations on what we have been discussing here…

    The U.K. – Not 4 Tornados, apparently a mix of Tornado and Typhoon. Total of 8 SS fired

    France – A mixture of a mirage and Rafale. Total of 9 SCALP fired from the air plus 3 from a frigate.

    The US – Too much to remember but what I can remember is 1 Tico and 2 ABs as launch platforms plus also one sub launched a few. In addition B1s where JASSM was explicitly mentioned as the weapon.

    Explicit mention was also made that there was more to last night than just the launch platforms and that various electronic warfare and other assets were involved. No details of type, number or national affiliation was given there, just a one sentence reference to the fact.

    • OK, he’s just answering questions and commented that the B1s were accompanied by fighters up to launch point. He then went on to say that the French and British did the same so I guess at least for the U.K. the mix of Typhoon plus Tornado might have been all Tornado launch platform with Typhoon as the fighter escort. Probably the same for the French. The general also reconfirmed US JASSM use twice in the last 2 minutes.

  22. I object to those against regime change being labelled as Russian trolls. If the intervention is limited to bombing chemical weapons sites, then fine. My fear is that this may escalate into full-blown regime change, especially since John Bolton is in the White House. Now I am by no means a pacifist, I think we must intervene to stop the genocide of White Afrikaans farmers in South Africa. However, given the demographic situation of native Europeans in Western Europe and the massive deluge of non-Western migrants into Europe, and eyewatering financial burden, not to mention crime and terrorism, and the questionable cost-benefit ratio, I’m against regime-change in the Middle East. I would be much more supportive of regime change if European governments stopped all migrant boats and returned them to Africa or Turkey, implemented a Trump-style Muslim ban and deported all jihadis, extremists and all persons of non-European origin who have no intention or ability to fully assimilate into European culture.

    • Hi
      The Govt have been quite clear on this, this (from the UK point of view anyway) has got nothing to do with regime change.
      This is all to do with the enforcement of Ban of use of Chemical weapons – something that the Assad regime has been, according to the UN, doing multiple times. A line has to be drawn somewhere – it is being drawn now. We tried to draw that line in 2013 (Obama’s notorious red lines) but those lines were crossed and no action was taken.

      I would also just like to remind everyone on the blog of what the news would have been if these strikes (caused by the gassing of innocent people in Syria) had not been carried out:
      “The international chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed the UK’s analysis of the type of nerve agent used in the Russian ex-spy poisoning.
      The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons did not name the nerve agent as Novichok, but said it agreed with the UK’s findings on its identity.”

      Not even on the front page of the BBC News, confirmation by the OPCW that it agrees with the UK with regards to the findings on the identity of a nerve agent that was used on British soil.

      Some grand strategic games are being played at the moment, Russia are well aware of what diverts the attention of the world press and the useful idiots it has at its beckon call.

      Remember this:
      On the 4th of March it is likely that another country, probably Russia launched a nerve agent attack on UK soil.
      Last night we launched a retaliatory attack on the Syrian regime for launching a chemical attack on its own people.
      One happened in our country, one happened in another – only one is now getting all the attention.
      Things to think about.

  23. So…where will we will we find the actual number of intercepted cruise missiles? Do we just half what Russia claimed?

    More worrying…. what defences does the UK have again Russian cruise missiles?

    The word NONE springs to mind.

    • Afternoon Dennis
      All targets were hit and the mission, after analysis was deemed a success. Any cruise missile that was either shot down, intercepted or suffered mechanical failure will have been reporting telemetry information right up until the point were it either hit its target or the link was lost.
      All of this information, will be used to make the weapon system better, more robust, less susceptible to intercept or malfunction.
      I would suggest we take any claim of interceptions at face value. Last night 3 nations launched roughly 120 missiles in a short window against just 3 targets. Even if S-400 was used (and I hope it was, because whilst its on its giving its secrets away) those targets were still hit.
      If we need to do it again tomorrow against another 3 targets, by that I mean launch circa 120 cruise missiles, we will. If we have to do it the night after that, we will. At some point more and more of those missiles will get through if simply through attrition.
      The Russian state has no need, or want to launch cruise missiles against the UK, this is not the geopolitical game that is being played out at the moment.
      Gone are the days of Bloodhound I am afraid, we have different systems in place now to ensure the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.

      • The Russian military has admittedly gotten the largest bump since the days of the CCCP over the last few years, however. they simply do NOT have the capability to fight the protracted conventional war that would result from a cruise missile attack on a NATO country. Period.

        They can rattle their rusty nuclear sabre all they like and cause localized mischief in the Ukraine and Syria but at the end of the days “sound and fury signifying nothing”. If I were to pick the greatest threat the Russians pose at the moment and in the future, it’s their cyberwarfare capability. We really need to get on top of that and in a hurry…

        Cheers!

  24. Good news – This strike lays affirms the west’s red line in respect of chemical weapons. The Germans and Italians have issued supporting statements. The Russians acquiesced by virtue of agreeing not to interfere. One small step for civilised behaviour. Oh and the Russians have agreed to let the US defeat Isil in the north and east of Syria. They agree on something.
    Bad news – Overall the winners in Syria still look like being Assad who is beating the opposition, Russia which keeps its air and sea bases and Turkey who have been given carte blanche to invade Syria to wipe out the Kurdish ‘terrorists’. For the people of Syria the misery continues.

  25. Its really high time so GR4s are granted a reprieve past next year.

    We still have no airborne anti-ship capability and the Typhoon is still working up its strike capabilities.

    • Hi Geoff
      I think Ben(P) has said it best, time to move on. I am a big supporter of the Tonka, it has done sterling service but the frames are tired, we do not want to run them beyond their hours (Nimrod is a sad testament to that) and a graceful retirement, freeing up much needed crews and maintenance engineers to the Typhoon fleet can only be a good thing.
      I am concerned like you that we still have gaps in the weapon systems required to fulfil all the roles we would like but don’t be too despondent, we are getting there

  26. Hi All
    I think I read every post here from political trolls, armchair generals and wannabee military experts and point out that the only people who know what went on, what asset capabilities are are the people who can’t ever talk about it.

    • Hi Phil
      You are correct in your assessment – democracy though allows us freedom of speech and expression of opinion.
      This website allows that, from the political trolls to armchair generals and wannabe military experts – we are all here – moaning, summarising, theorising and building dream armies.
      Wouldn’t want to live anywhere else 🙂

    • You’re quite right. We can’t give away military intelligence that our leaders have used to make these decisions, that would be criminally irresponable, though the Bush/Blair Iraqi WMD fiasco hasn’t helped anyone.

    • Hi Phil, I hope you enjoyed your poached eggs on toast, but really, leaving the empty plate lying around on that glass-top table in front of the TV! At least let your two golden retrievers lick the plate clean!

    • And?

      Better close the site down then. We will only move elsewhere leaving the handful of ex military here who maybe are allowed to theorise and discuss their knowledge as they may actually know what they are talking about!

      Blimey.

  27. Does this mean Operation Shader is over? Paveways and Brimstone back on Tornado from Monday morning? Can’t believe it will be business as usual

  28. Should the Syrians be bold and stupid enough to do a counter strike, with a few of their much protected Su-24’s. What are the Missile defences at the RAF base Akrotiri, British Army maned Rapier missile systems? I understand there are also some RAF Typhoons based there for Air Defence no doubt.

    • None usually. 16 Regiment RA maintain a battery on rotation at MPA in the Falklands but not Cyprus.

      I guess they could deploy there if needed.

  29. Evening all.

    Given the French launched cruise missiles from one of their frigates, do you thinking this will give more impetus to adding Mk41 VLS to the Type 45s? I read before that the money for that is now being used to fix the propulsion problems but the flexibility offered if they were fitted is obvious.

    Maybe last night changes the optics within HMG and the money can be found to add them whilst each is in for engine refit.

    Thoughts?

    • Hi David
      It all depends on how the RN want to utilise their platforms to deploy strategic weapons.
      Currently they do that by using submarines, a role the silent service protect ferociously.
      Gunbuster is a lot better positioned to give an articulate answer so I will defer to him – but happy to give an opinion

      • Hi Lee.

        My only concern is we have precious few attack boats that could be made available at any one time. Adding the capability to the Type 45s gives commanders – and politicians for that matter – more options if needed. I really hope the events of last night don’t get lost. Fingers crossed!!

    • David, I’d rather see the money spent on giving T-45 additional Sylvers and an anti-ballistic missile capability. But the T-26 should most definitely have a TLAM option.

  30. I do hope the Government considers the ongoing requirement for a far bigger inventory of missiles for UK forces and the need for a missile air defence system for the UK and key bases globally. I do wonder what would happen if a reciprocal attack on Cypress happened whether we can defend it.

    Europe has to stop relying on the US for its stores, we need to have our own and now is the time for the US to mandate a 3% spending commitment for membership of NATO and see what happens from there.

    • Hi Pacman27
      Inventory of weapons is a challenge the MOD is well aware of, however we have not helped ourselves by picking multiple methods (Aster, Mk41 etc) to launch them.
      Cyprus – don’t worry, geopolitically with Greece, Turkey and us (and Russian money laundering) Cyprus is going to be just fine.
      3% – to much.

  31. Just a thought, why did we need to launch over 100 cruise missiles against only 3 targets? I would have thought only a small number at each one unless they were huge sites.

    • Ensures enough get through.
      Saturates defences.
      Maybe the sites were hardened.
      Explosive potential of a single missile maybe not sufficient.

      Just a few ideas. Anyone?

      • Sending the message, if you want to put a defensive screen up and deploy the S-400 system on night 1 I can deploy 120 missiles, on night 2 I can deploy 120 missiles on night 3 I can deploy 120 missiles. On night 4 the US 6th fleet will be in place and I will deploy 120 missiles.
        On night 5 I will have assets in place where I can deploy 120 missiles, to achieve the aim I will deploy what I need to make sure that you fully understand I will prevail.
        Gen Dunford is a Marine, we make sure that when we strike we utilise all the assets at our disposal to make sure the enemy fully understands the resolve of which we strike, how specific we are at what we strike and damn sure that, if required we will be back to do it again and again until the enemy realise our resolve is absolute and our determination to maintain the aim – defeating the enemy, is fully understood.
        * Disclaimer – I may be bias 👍🏼

  32. I find it too much of a coincidence that as soon as the Russian embassies released their counter propaganda, that commissar Corbyn released his letter to the PM saying the attack was illegal and that there was no UN authority. Of course there was no authority from the UN Security Council as Russia vetoed the vote.
    However, there is a UN charter stating that chemical weapons cannot be produced or used. What’s the point of a charter if nobody upholds it. I was wondering if Syria, Iran or Russia have signed the charter?

  33. The age of the GR4 is totally irrelevant just like the MOD’s justification for binning the OCEAN. Perfectly capable and suitable platforms for delivering the weapons we have just seen at no peril to the aircraft or crew. Keep them on until we have a fully up to speed Typhoon force with an appropriate increase in ACTIVE squadrons.

  34. So, in order to keep our aircraft out of harm’s way, we opt to employ the stand of approach using a cruise missile.

    As the Typhoon has clear advantages over the F35B and vise versa, would it not make sense to include it onboard our QE carriers as well as the F35B?

    Quote.

    21st February 2011 Naval Typhoon unveiled.

    At Aero India 2011 Eurofighter and partner company BAE Systems unveiled for the first time more details about the studies carried out for the initial definition of the navalised version of the Typhoon.

    The most important element of the navalised Typhoon is that its exceptional thrust-to-weight ratio allows the aircraft to take off from a carrier without using a catapult, but with a simple and much cheaper ski-jump. Detailed simulations have shown that the aircraft will be able to take off and land in this way with a full weapon and fuel load. A key design driver for navalised Typhoon is 95% commonality with the land variant.

    An even more powerful version of the Eurojet engine (EJ 2×0 with 30% increase in thrust) has been developed since this post was written.

    An interesting thought!

    • We probably should have gone down this road decades ago.

      Not a cat in hells chance it will happen now. If it has not flown yet will takes years knowing our faffing about to realise it and by then F35B will be in service.

    • Nigel, not a chance! When I still worked for Airbus (I am retired now) I was part of a group who visited the MOD Main Building to put forward at a senior meeting the idea of a navalised Typhoon with all the advantages you describe. The idea got as far as the second cup of coffee I seem to remember. It got shot down as an attempt to keep the Typhoon “marching army” of 6000 engineers across Europe marching… The MOD had of course by then invested a lot of money, time and effort on F-35/BAE Systems and weren’t about to change direction. The more powerful version of the EJ-2000 you describe also had the benefit of a vectored thrust exhaust which had already been designed and tested. It would have been an awesome beast… And when I read that F-35 is not going to carry Storm Shadow I despair…

      • Yes, Thrust vectoring was available from 2010 onwards.

        As Russian missile technology catches up with the advantages of stealth technology and we continue to be drip fed our quota of F35’s, I would of thought reducing our original quota of 138 aircraft to the amount required to cover our carrier wings while using the Typhoon as a mixed onboard package.

        Potentially, this would be a very useful stop gap filler creating an opportunity to move ahead of the curve by 2030 if we Invest “NOW” in a 6th generation fighter/bomber.

        The EJ 2×0 is already being considered for installation onboard a 6th gen designed airframe and possibly could fit into Taranis as well? making the UK once again a force to be reckoned with.

        As the UN has already concluded that we have entered into another cold war with Russia, it’s time to invest in our armed services and stop giving billions of pounds away in charitable aid and Brexit hand shakes. £12 billion PA and £30+ Billion respectively as I understand it? when clearly we are in need of it ourselves.

        Utter madness in my humble opinion.

        • This country has plenty of money. PC and EU obsessed government chose to spend it elsewhere.

          I have no problem with the “Brexit Bill” as that is an obligation we signed up for and as we already pay 13-14 billion odd per year for membership in reality is it any different? Just a few years more.

          The Oversees aid budget should be reduced IMO. While I understand and support the benefits of “Soft Power” when our own public services are falling apart and the armed forces constantly starved of money ( HMG’s own policy ) then charity indeed should begin at home and SOME of that money transferred.

          If HMG do not react in the upcoming review and stop cuts and increase the budget it will only highlight again that they really don’t give a toss for the armed forces but prioritise industry fat cats and cosy profits.

          And if things worsen with Russia that will bite them as even our disinterested ignorant public who assume all is well with defence and will take more notice.

          • I also both support the benefits of soft power, the morality doing something to help others, and the reduction of the aid budget. Firstly, reducing the aid budget is not the same as stopping it completely so my conscience can live with that. Secondly, if only a few of the many reports we have read in the news over the last few years are true then this arbitrary 0.7% figure that has to be met has resulted in a proportion of our aid budget being spent very badly as money is thrown at very dubious projects in order to meet the target by year-end. Finally, do we really need to spend so much more as a percentage of GDP compared to other similarly or more affluent countries e.g. France 0.36%, Germany 0.49% and USA 0.15% all according to Wikipedia?

            I think a reasonable approach would be for the government to announce a cut to maybe 0.35% for a single term of parliament during which time the money saved would be redirected to some urgent recovery/repair funding for areas like defence and the NHS. During that 5 years, or maybe slightly longer depending when in the current term the strategy was announced, there would also be a project put in place to recommend and implement better guidance, vetting, monitoring and quality control procedures for selecting aid projects to fund and to monitor those projects funded to ensure effectiveness and at least try to minimise losses to corrupt intermediaries and/or recipients. That project would also be tasked with, once those controls were in place, making recommendations on an appropriate ongoing level of aid funding and in the following term of parliament the aid budget would be gradually titrated up to the new recommended level (assuming it was higher than the 0.35%).

            That would improve our mechanisms of allocating aid to direct it better, release quite a bit of cash over a 5 – 10 year period to fund other departments and at least partially repair years of under investment, and still allow the U.K. to maintain a good level of soft power and pull its weight amongst the international community as far as aid funding goes except for maybe a few years of being somewhat less generous than a few countries such as Germany and many of the Scandinavian countries.

    • I hope it will be a proper documentary on the carrier and not descend into the liberal hand wringing on whether the UK needs it and so on.

      • No, it’ll concentrate mainly on the galley, mess deck, cabins and Charlie from Durham and Jane from Plymouth. It’ll talk a lot about football pitches, London double decker buses and Nelson’s column. It’ll say sod all about the weapon system’s capability or it’s significance for UK defence… But it’s better than nothing!

        • I’m sure they will state the size of the carrier’s deck in terms of number of football pitches. in case there are others like me who don’t follow football I just worked out the size of the QEC’s deck in that other commonly used U.K. unit for measuring area.

          The deck of a QE class carrier is 1/105,697th the size of Wales.

          You’re welcome.

          • Fucking brilliant! Yes, Nelson’s column and football pitches got mentioned and the galley and mess decks, but it was far better than I had expected. In fact I don’t mind admitting there were moments when I had a tear in my eye. Quite emotional in places…

          • (Chris H) I thought the field gun competition summed it all up well. Welding a team together from a bunch od people who have never seen each other before and bloody won it! And don’t tell me pride doesn’t matter when a big old engineering CPO was brought to tears.

            I thought it was an excellent programme and was ‘warts and all’ lets be fair. And to think PoW is now where QE was when this programme started.

          • I thought it was good as well, all the “it’s as tall as Nelson’s Column” stuff at the beginning was no more than was necessary to set the scale for viewers who haven’t been following the ship as avidly as most of us here. I was never that bothered about inane commentary, at worst I figured that I could watch it with the sound muted and still see lots of nice high quality footage of the inside of the ship.

            I’m glad they got to sea by the end of the first episode, I was a bit worried that they would spend 2 episodes on the build. Perhaps in a year or two they will add another 2 or 3 episodes, maybe one episode covering USA-based U.K. F-35B workup, another episode on end-2018 F-35B trials on the carrier, and perhaps a final episode to wrap things up, look at joint helo + F35 trials etc, a look at escorts, plans for T26 etc. With the BBC’s commercial hat on they could use references to T26 plans as a teaser for a three-part equivalent documentary that I would hope they might be contemplating for the first T26.

    • Yes, CATOBAR, conventional take off but arrested return. The Qs are all electric ships. No steam. Not enough power on board for EMALS. So Typhoon would have been perfect, a la Russia, India, China, but with a really almighty aircraft.

      • Richard,

        Purley from a novicies perspective, would the combination of a speed brake similar to that found on the tail of the space shuttle and thrust vectoring be sufficient to slow the aircraft down without the need for an arrested return?

        I’ve often wondered.

        • It would have been enough without traps however circumstances would have to be perfect. The weather would have to be clear. The carrier would have to turn as the wind dictated. While the aircraft would either have to have no payload or drop it beforehand. So in the end unsafe without catching the wires.

      • (Chris H) Sceptical Richard – It is called ‘STOBAR’. the ‘Traps’ required are not technically advanced (as long as you keep away from AAG) and could be fitted in a refit. Indeed the QE / PoW are passively engineered for later CATOBAR. The issue (as I understand it) is that after the French left the Typhoon programme (as they always leave every shared project when they have what they need) the remaining partners saw no need for a Naval Typhoon (dim to say the least) and the airframe was not designed with a ‘hook’ which requires major fuselage strengthening (and therefore weight) and significantly stronger undercarriage (again adding weight). I believe that Typhoon would have been a far better aircraft and been developed far faster had the French remained. The overall sales would have been bigger than the sum of Rafale + Typhoon especially as CATOBAR capability would have been built into the aircraft. India would have bought hundreds for example.

        Related to this need for stronger airframes on a carrier having seen the flex of an F-35B on normal runway landings I reckon we will be fitting the ‘C’ type undercart on our ‘B’ aircraft as we intend using SRVL recovery which will beat the hell out of them. Last time I saw main undercarriage flex like this was on TSR-2 ….

        The QEs have sufficient electric power generation for EMALS catapults as they use a 45 second lower power feed between launches to a storage set housing storage rotors that actually give the very high power to the EMALS catapult. Two MT30s and a bunch of Wartsillas on full chat can power more than the drive motors

        • Gosh Chris, you’re absolutely right! How stupid of me! I meant STOBAR (short take off but arrested return) not CATOBAR (catapult assisted take off assisted return). As I said, stupid of me. Thanks for pointing it out. At Airbus we had looked at the issues around the hook, landing gear, corrosion, nav interfaces between carrier and aircraft, etc. Yes there is a penalty, but it still would have been a superb aircraft. I have not noticed the flexibility in the B’s undercarriage, but I guess it’s something they must be aware of if they are working up towards SRVL on a regular basis. I’m not an expert on EMALS so I’ll take what you say at face value. And Nigel, as Chris says, could have recovered a Typhoon without traps in extremis, but if the purpose is to do it repeatedly, in all weathers, safely and with maximum bring-back, the answer is definitely no.

  35. Thank you Richard & Chris for your feedback.

    I wonder how long it would take to fit the AR onboard HMS Prince of Wales?

    Yes, It would delay the entry time into service, but as we are planning to install it on both carriers at some point in the future, why not do it now given the increased threat level from a return to cold war status?

    According to NATO that is!

    The best way to deter any potential aggressor is to show we have the means to stand up to them by using the best that British industry has to offer and in the numbers required.

    We need to change the “too little too late” philosophy that has rapidly become the norm over the years.

    Let’s hope the defence budget reflects my sentiments.

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