British combat aircraft will ‘shoot down aircraft over Ireland if they are hijacked by terrorists’, according to local media.
According to the Irish Examiner, “five well-placed sources in Ireland and one in Britain have pointed to the agreement being in place, with a number saying the Defence Forces was not involved in negotiating it, despite the RAF asking for its inclusion.”
Ireland’s air force lacks aircraft that can climb high enough or go fast enough to intercept Russian aircraft which came close to Irish airspace on a couple of occasions in 2015, being driven away by British jets.
It is understood that Civil servants from the Irish Department of Defence and Department of Foreign Affairs with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) entered into a bilateral agreement with British counterparts: the RAF, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Defence, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The agreement reportedly permits the British military to conduct armed operations over Ireland in the event of a terrorist-attack, real or suspected. Ireland operates ‘The Air Corps’ who fly a fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft (but no jet aircraft), it provides military support to the Irish Army and Naval Service.
Their only combat capable aircraft is the Pilatus PC-9M whih can be armed with a heavy machine gun or rocket pods. Their primary airbase is Casement Aerodrome located at Baldonnel, County Dublin.
This is a welcome move.