Typhoon jets, supported by a Voyager tanker, have intercepted Russian aircraft.

Two Russian aircraft were shadowed off the west coast of the Shetland Islands in international airspace before they passed by the west of Ireland to the Celtic Sea.

French aircraft are now deployed to monitor the Russian aircraft.

Why does the RAF intercept aircraft outside sovereign UK airspace?

A country’s sovereign airspace extends 12 miles beyond its coastline, sitting above its territorial waters.  However, there are 3 main reasons why unknown or potentially hostile aircraft must be intercepted before they reach this point.

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

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

You can read more on this here.

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Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

At half the cost of Typhoon and as a Tier 2 aircraft, I’d say the Gripen could be a very useful asset policing UK airspace, especially with our current defence budget! Eurofighter Typhoon: Maximum speed: Mach 2 range: 1,390 km ferry range: 3,790 km Hardpoints 13 including 1x 1000 litre fuel tank Supercruise: Yes Gripen E: Mach 2 Range: 1,500 km combat range, and 4,000 km ferry range Supercruise: Yes Hardpoints: 10 Gripen can take off AND land in 600m, be refuelled and rearmed in ten minutes by 1 technician and 5 conscripts, and can operate from country roads; whereas… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Eurofighter Typhoon G Rating Limits: +9/-3 Gripen E G Rating Limits: +9/-3 Already cleared for Meteor. “Arguably its most important attribute is the innovative concept applied in the design of its systems architecture, in which flight-critical components are segregated from mission systems. This partition permits the insertion of new mission capabilities without the need for expensive and time-consuming requalification of flight-critical aspects. As a direct result, technology and weapons updates can be inserted rapidly as they emerge, and on a rolling basis. Conversely, most other types typically undergo occasional midlife upgrades that add packages of updates simultaneously, with a major… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

Buying the Gripen would be a false economy.
It would be another aircraft type to support, from training pilots and maintenance crews, through to stocking spare parts. The Typhoon is a fighter and so perfectly suited to this role.
Longer term perhaps armed UAV could be used, but we don’t have that capability yet.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Far from it Sean, there is a Naval version which could be used onboard the QE class in the future and of course in a support role for our strike brigades given that it can take off and land on motorways unprepared airstrips.

We have recently been discussing how many replacement SA90 155mm vehicles the UK can buy, so looking at affordable alternatives to Typhoon and the F35 seems sensible to me?

Sean
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Sean

The naval version of the Gripen could not be used from the QE carriers. The carriers have ski-jumps for our F35B’s.
To use the Gripen we’d need to spend hundreds of millions installing EMALS and traps, removing the ski-jumps, and then we’d only have the third-rate Gripen aboard instead of the state-of-the-art F35B!!
Doh 🤦‍♂️

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Why are you suggesting replacing the F35 B Sean?? I haven’t.

Sean
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Sean

Because you couldn’t sensibly operate Gripen’s and F35B’s from the same carrier.
Remove the ski-jump greatly reduces the weapons load the F35B can carry.

(The US Marines would have the ski-jump, but the USN believes that adding these to their amphibious assault ships would lead to them being considered as aircraft carriers. Which would bring the Nimitz and Ford class into question.)

The Gripen is an older and less capable aircraft than the Typhoon, why would we go backwards?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

The Gripe E/F has not gone into full production yet, Carrier-based was only looking at other possibilities that it could potentially be used for aside QRA. Next major refit who can say? but with a shrinking defence budget, you will be lucky to see 48 F35B before the next decade. “Another argument for CATOBAR is that the F-35C is cheaper to purchase and maintain than the F-35B with its complex lift fan and vectored thrust mechanisms. Supposedly the cheaper aircraft would offset the cost of fitting EMALS. In fact, the cost differential between the variants has reduced considerably over time… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

The defence budget isn’t shrinking, it’s still above the NATO 2% which we honour unlike most European nations. More money was allocated to defence last year, and more yesterday. Admittedly not enough in my opinion, I believe we should be closer to 4% but there are a lot of pressures at the moment. After 9 years of take Saab have yet to produce a navalised Gripen so it’s doubtful they will. The fact they now propose flying such a thing off a ski-jump instead if a catapult suggests that they’ve found they can’t strengthen it sufficiently to cope with the… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

Actually, having done further checking…
there is no naval version of the Gripen!!!
There’s been talk by Saab, first of a Sea Gripen, now the Gripen Maritime, even some design work and lots of CGI. But after 9 years not a single airframe of this new navel version exists.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

I know Sean, “looking into future possibilities” apart from QRA. There is also a twin-engined version on the drawing board too hence their reason for joining in the Tempest programme no doubt? “These images are from an official SAAB presentation for a next-generation fighter. It is bigger than the very compact Gripen and has two engines. It has a faceted fuselage with small internal weapon bays for air-to-air missiles. Bigger payload will be carried externally and there will be provision for tight integration with UCAVs. The general arrangement apart from the engines and stealth surfacing is similar to the flying… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

Here and now, what works is what we are talking about, not fantasy aircraft. But if you want to go that route, why buy a twin engined stealthy Gripen when we could buy Tempest instead which is the successor to the Typhoon. And does this new fictional super Gripen have anything that the F35B doesn’t already have? No it doesn’t, and it can’t operate off our carriers. I’d say Eire was looking to build an Air Force, then buying some cheap Gripen’s as an alternative to French or Russian designs would be an idea. But given we have lots of… Read more »

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

Very well said Sean, that is the obvious common sense approach. Somthing Mr Collins lacks in spades.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

In a QRA configuration.

Right now, the F-35 can carry 4 AIM-120s in its internal weapon bays and two AIM-9s on the wings.

However, if it carries those external Sidewinders, its radar cross-section is going to increase dramatically. In effect, it will no longer be a stealth aircraft.

In short, the only real advantage the F35 has is 4x AIM-120s in a stealth configuration over Gripen. I hope it doesn’t require a ski ramp to take off with only these?

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

All these countries buying the F35, yet somehow you think you know better Nigel. Forget about Gripen, it’s a good aircraft for the low end of the fighter market, and that’s it. Good if your Brazil, or Hungary. It isn’t better then the F35 or Typhoon. And your laughable comment that you somehow think it’s a bad thing the F35 needs a ski ramp to take off carrying only 4 AMRAAM and 2 ASRAAM says it all.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Try following the threads and looking at things in perspective and then you might understand the reason for the comments.

ABOVE

SEAN

“Because you couldn’t sensibly operate Gripen’s and F35B’s from the same carrier.
Remove the ski-jump greatly reduces the weapons load the F35B can carry.

(The US Marines would have the ski-jump, but the USN believes that adding these to their amphibious assault ships would lead to them being considered as aircraft carriers. Which would bring the Nimitz and Ford class into question.)

The Gripen is an older and less capable aircraft than the Typhoon, why would we go backwards?”

Sean
Guest
Sean

Wrong. The huge advantage that the F35 in stealth mode over the Gripen is that it’s STEALTHY!! 🤦‍♂️

So in the opening days of a way, you operate F35s in stealth mode to take out the opposing air defences like S400s. Once they are eliminated you can then fly the F35Bs in non-stealth mode and you can start flying your 4th generation jets like Typhoon and Gripen.
Even then the F35B is still superior to the Gripen in so many ways.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Here he goes. Do you work for saab Nigel? How does adding a 3rd fast jet type to our inventory save money? The mind boggles. And there isn’t a naval version, only a CGI picture of one.

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

Don’t waste your breath Sean. Nigel seems to have some long standing love affair with the Gripen 😆

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

As per, you keep missing the point, what can be achieved in future relations with Saab that will benefit both our countries.

I have my opinion, don’t be so bloody rude.

https://saab.com/gripen/our-fighters/gripen-fighter-system/gripen-e-series/gripen-maritime/

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

Because you opinion Nigel is bonkers. Get your head out of those top trump cards! Post a stupid comment, and expected one back. And we don’t need to buy Gripen to have good relations with Saab. And we won’t buy Gripen to replace tranche 1 Typhoons, which will be in service until 2030 anyway. If we replace those aircraft with anything, it will be F35A, or we will hang on until Tempest enters service.

Sean
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Sean

I think Nigel must be heavily invested in Saab shares 🙄

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

😆😂 yes, defo. He loves it!

Lordtemplar
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Lordtemplar

FYI the Gripen does not cost haf the price of a Typhoon. Gripen is not a A or C model anymore. With its upgrades, flyaway and maintenace costs have become a lot more substantial due to the integration of more complex systems.
– Typhoon Tranche 3A flyaway cost €90m
– Gripen E flyaway cost $85m

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

£79M as opposed to £ 66M in that case.

Now, look at the CPFH of the Gripen, Typhoon and F35, taking into account the air policing role it could undertake here in the UK not to mention low-intensity conflicts, along with the points I mention above and you can see my point.

We currently build around 15% of the Gripen, no doubt we could increase this with potential orders.

A very interesting study by Janes.

https://www.ftm.nl/upload/content/files/IHS%20Jane%27s%20Jet%20Operating%20Costs%20White%20Paper%20FINAL%2013th%20March%202012%281%29.pdf

julian1
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julian1

so are you proposing that Typhoon is replaced by Gripen and F35B is curtailed in favour of Gripen? Even with your savings that involves a lot of capital investment which for the Typhoon at least is already paid for. If this decision were to be made, it is 20 years too late!

Also, Gripen only has a single engine which makes it unsuitable for long periods over water as per traditional RAF requirements for QRA

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

” Also, Gripen only has a single-engine which makes it unsuitable for long periods over water as per traditional RAF requirements for QRA” F35B carrier operations spring to mind julian1! Are you suggesting they are not fit for QRA? F35A’s flew for the first time in this very role in the last few days. All new aircraft require capital investment including the F35 and Typhoon, how will they continue to develop them in the future? “The cost of the Typhoon project has risen substantially. Despite the MOD’s now buying 72 fewer aircraft (down from 232 to 160, a reduction of… Read more »

julian1
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julian1

Well, the naval QRA is different to RAF QRA from land as emphasized by the Sea Harrier/Phantom in the ’80s. With a joint force structure, it is ambiguous, agreed. Long tracts over empty sea on one engine are full of risk and even the F35A is not great in that role. I still think Gripen would be a false economy as of now because of the billions required to procure and get it into service…and what would happen to the Typhoons? If you’re suggesting Gripen could complement Typhoon (tranche 1 replacement) or replace follow-on F35B orders, that could be a… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Replacing Tranche 1 Typhoons with Gripen E/F would be a very good idea julian1 as I have mentioned many times before here on UKDJ.

Purley as a guide.

Austria to retire Eurofighter Typhoons from 2020

“It says retaining the 15-strong fleet for the next 30 years would see it incur costs of between €4.4 billion and €5.1 billion ($5 billion-$5.8 billion). Figures produced by a special commission appointed to examine the issue suggest the fleet switch would generate potential savings of €100 million to €2 billion in the period to 2049.”

https://www.flightglobal.com/austria-to-retire-eurofighter-typhoons-from-2020/124735.article

julian1
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julian1

Austria’s air force is hardly the RAF. One type, one squadron and one mission. Is Austria going to launch stand-off Stormshadow, provide CAS using Brimstone as well as long/range endurance intercepts? Not a good example. Since when does Austria have to use its aircraft?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Look at the cost savings

julian1
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julian1

..so we drop Brimstone and Stormshadow?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

No, we replace our Tranche 1 Typhoons with Gripen E/F hence the reason I posted the potential savings above by doing so.
comment image

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

NAO The Equipment Plan 2019 to 2029 For the third successive year, the Equipment Plan remains unaffordable. The Department’s central estimate of equipment procurement and support costs is lower than last year, but this reflects a restatement of the affordability gap rather than actions to address the funding shortfalls. The Department has still not taken the necessary decisions to establish an affordable long-term investment programme to develop future military capabilities. It has responded to immediate funding pressures by strengthening its management of annual budgets and establishing controls on future expenditure on equipment and support projects. It is also seeking to… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins
Lordtemplar
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Lordtemplar

Point is the Typhoon does not cost twice what a Gripen does. It’s only 13m more.
Secondly Typhoon keeps the british economy and jobs going
And more importantly having a third fighter in the inventory means training pilots and crews as well as new logistics to go along. You also need to integrate and qualify the Gripen for UK weapons like ASRAAM, Storm Shadow etc… This is tiem consuming and expensive.
Gripen in the RAF is a false economy and for what benefit?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Typhoon £125 million (including development + production costs) I believe?

Meirion X
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Meirion X

If the RAF was to procure Gripens, the best place to station them would be in the South West to guard the SW Approaches and Irish Sea.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Good point Meirion X, closer ties through the Tempest programme will clearly benefit the Gripens future development.

I think we would be foolish not to consider purchasing 16 of these rather than more Typhoons, the demand for them is clearly slowing.

Fantastic aircraft by the way, but too expensive for QRA duties. A two-tier airforce is required with our limited defence budget sadly and the Gripen E/F is not that far behind Typhoon with other advantages as I’ve mentioned above.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Saab banks on Gripen upgrade in new UK-Sweden warplane alliance.

“The MoU is the starting point for the countries to analyze the conditions for deeper cooperation on the development of future combat aircraft capabilities, including future development of the JAS 39 Gripen,” the Swedes said.”

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2019/07/19/saab-banks-on-gripen-boost-in-new-uk-sweden-warplane-alliance/

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

🤣😂🤣 Typhoon was designed for QRA! The Gripen is a great aircraft for the market it is aimed at. But it has never been classed as a Typhoon competitor. You are proposing we spend a shit load of cash for an aircraft that is less capable then what we have already got. Have a day off Nigel 😆

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

As expected, wrong and without any facts to back it up. Cleary designed for QRA. The commander of Sweden’s air force, Mats Helgesson, recently made the bold statement that his country’s Saab Gripen E fighter could beat Russia’s formidable fleet of Sukhoi jets with none of the expensive stealth technology the US relies on. “Several years ago the Gripen pilots got tired of being made fun of by German Typhoon pilots and came to play with their wartime electronic warfare and gave them a hell of a hard time,” Bronk said. One of the Gripens was “reportedly able to appear… Read more »

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

My god Nigel, how old is that bullshit story. Professional military fast jet pilots don’t make fun of others, and then the guys being picked on don’t suddenly decide to switch on all there toys. Air combat exercises and engagements are carefully planned, and rules of engagement are talked through at length before they leave the ground, and what type of engagement they want to achieve ect. They aren’t laughing down the radio shouting ‘ Jesters dead’ Yee haa

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Did you say that the Gripen was not designed for QRA Robert? Wrong again it was!

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

Only you are wrong Nigel, and your fantasy Gripen fleet. Typhoon and F35B are here to stay. The Gripen offers nothing that we don’t already have, No advantage in capability or cost. Even Norway and Denmark haven’t bought the Gripen.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Let’s wait and see, hence my “suggestion” for a “TWO TIER” airforce in relation to “QRA” and low-intensity conflicts. The first sentence of the very first post: “as a Tier 2 aircraft, I’d say the Gripen could be a very useful asset policing UK airspace, especially with our current defence budget!” You seem to have a problem understanding the context that my posts are written in, my suggestion again is to follow them before posting your personal and rude opinions. The actual report can be found via a link I’ve already posted. “UK may not be able to buy new… Read more »

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

What you don’t seem to understand Nigel that having a tier 2 aircraft for UK air policing duties is not going to save money, it would cost alot more money to bring a new aircraft into service. We have a fine fleet of 160 Typhoons bought and paid for, lets use them, and get our moneys worth. Even a small buy of Gripens would work out more expensive then buying the same number of new Typhoons. New maintenance contracts have to be in place, new engine contracts, new logistics and spares, aircrew training, ground crew training, the cost of setting… Read more »

Pete
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Pete

There is a two tier force already with the use of T1 for QRA which are already paid for and integrated into the supply chain. This facilitates use of T2/ T3 for expeditionary and more demanding roles.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Hi Pete, yes, that’s correct, but I was suggesting something that could match the latest fighters from both Russia and China in the QRA role amongst others.

That being said, The Hawk is an excellent performer!

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

The Typhoon T1 is more then a match for any Russian of Chinese fighter. Plus you aren’t going to see many of them heading over the north sea.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Try refreshing your browser and keep up!

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Get over the Gripen, we aren’t going to buy it, put more effort into understanding what the F35B brings to our capabilities, and get with reality.

andrew danks
Guest
andrew danks

Was a roomer some RAF typhoons going to camouflage dos anyone know any more on this.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Sorry Pete, ignore my earlier post, I thought you were referring to the Hawk!!!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Can the Tranche 1 carry Meteor? A pity if not but it appears that way? As of June 2018, the RAF has 67 Tranche 2 Typhoons and has contracted to purchase 40 Tranche 3 Typhoons.[27] 107 Tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons will be modified via “Project Centurion”, allowing them to utilise Meteor missiles, Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles. Tranche 1 Initial Operational Capability, Basic Air Defence Capability Tranche 1 Typhoons will be retained for UK Quick Reaction Alert purposes, and will not be modified under Centurion. No. IX Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, retains the Tranche 1 Typhoon for QRA… Read more »

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

Tranche 1 will carry on with AMRAAM. Which is more then good enough for UK QRA.

julian1
Guest
julian1

SW QRA will be a growing requirement…based at St Mawgan where there’s a very long runway, plenty of space, hardly any population and now no FlyBe to worry about. There should be some Poseidons based there too. There are still long tracts of sea though so the 2-engine Typhoon is best. If you want a 2-tier combat fleet, why not use the Gripen for CAS (assuming Brimstone can be cheaply integrated) or theatres of lower air-threat . I could accept it to replace Typhoon T1 numbers and the balance on the 138 F35Bs once 72 Bs are in service. Should… Read more »

Meirion X
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Meirion X

I see what you mean there!

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

I was also thinking of some else, if these Bears are beginning to be a nuance, why not try to capture one, by putting a net over it?

julian1
Guest
julian1

they should put up a Herc just for a laugh. They could fly together for hours on end waving at each other

DaveyB
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DaveyB

The Russians would be the ones laughing, as the Herc wouldn’t be able to keep up, even if it could get to an intercept point. I think the Bear is still the fastest propeller driven plane. Back when we had Nimrods, they would sometimes be used to shadow the Bears.

Mark B
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Mark B

Sorry I think we need some cheap drones to troll around after these time wasters. Good sized fuel tank, couple of missiles and a transponder. Job done.

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

What was not mentioned in the last Typhoon escorts Bear incident, is that there were 3 aircraft, a Tu142 – maritime reconnaissance version of the Bear, an IL 78 tanker and a fighter (Su33). Its worth putting into perspective the navigation missions the Russians are putting into these tasks, especially when they are not transmitting on IFF or have a collision avoidance system. I wonder how many “near misses” have been reported by civilian air traffic?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Good point.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Recent Bear incursions are the Russians saying, in response to the large NATO Ex in Norway, ‘keep off the grass.’

Fully support people saying Gripen a cheaper way of doing it. Don’t need super jets to intercept and if necessary shoot down Bears.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Guest
Levi Goldsteinberg

Defence was barely even mentioned in the Budget, only in passing that there is the SDSR incoming mid-this year. No changes to budgeting. It actually hurts more to have it ignored, shows how little HMG cares about defence at all

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

Well there is also an Autumn budget when it would seem to make more sense to discuss MoD funding in the context of the SDSR.

Mark B
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Mark B

To be fair Levi the whole budget was about defence it is just that the we can protect more people at the moment with a bottle of Domestos than a Type 26. The time for more traditional defence spending will come …

James
Guest
James

I thought id read the defence budget had gone up a little but probably in numbers terms to still meet the 2% of a slightly higher GDP. With the virus I can understand why it was largely ignored and with SDSR on the way we will just have to wait a bit.

Ulya
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Ulya

Reading the comments in these articles have been very interesting, just 1 question, if it is ok for NATO to play in our back yard, why so much complaining when we play in yours?

Ivor
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Ivor

I’m likely not informed enough to answer this question but perhaps you can help me. Which backyard of yours do we play in?

Mark B
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Mark B

International waters? You’re welcome – don’t mind in we join you? 🤣 Not sure we are complaining – we can use it to justify getting shed loads of money for better kit.

James
Guest
James

Do Nato often send long range nuclear capable bombers to play on the outskirts of Russian airspace? If they do then its really the USA playing and not NATO as no one else really has them.