It is understood that a loud bang heard across London just after 4am on Sunday was caused by RAF Typhoon jets going supersonic.

Quick Reaction Alert, or QRA, is when the RAF scramble their fighter jets within minutes to meet or intercept aircraft which give cause for concern.

Lossiemouth generally covers the northern sector, while Coningsby provides QRA in the south, which includes looking after London and events such as the Olympics. Southern QRA transferred temporarily to RAF Northolt in West London during the Games to add to the mix of military assets ensuring their safety.

A sonic boom is a loud sound kind of like an explosion. It’s caused by shock waves created by any object that travels through the air faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms create huge amounts of sound energy. When an object moves through the air, it makes pressure waves in front of and behind it.

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Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

Zoomies…any excuse to turn on the burners…

Andy P
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Andy P

Not many jets in Leuchars anymore, its full of pongos.

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

Shame we don’t have a true Southern QRA at Wattisham any more. That would reduce the need for Supersonics, if the Typhoons were based nearer to London.

HF
Guest
HF

Very true

Robert blay
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Robert blay

Coningsby to wattisham is just a few mins flying time at speed, so wouldn’t make any difference to southern QRA, or the need to go supersonic.

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

Go back to 1992 & the RAF had 2 sqns of Phantoms at Wattisham. 56 sqn with 20 Phantom FGR2 & 74 sqn with 14 F-4J.
I think it was Gordon Brown who got rid of Wattisham QRA in order to fund Afghanistan ground operations.

Gary Stedman
Guest

Wattisham QRA went with the Phantoms back in 1992, long before Afghan ops. It couldn’t be reinstated nowadays as the runway has been downgraded due to it’s poor condition – only light GA fixed wing and rotary. F4J’s were retired in 1990 when 74 went to surplus FGR2’s.

Robert blay
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Robert blay

Tornado F3’s took over QRA at Coningsby from around 1988- ish I believe.

Julian1
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Julian1

Wattisham QRA disappeared with the phantom in 92 long before afghanistan

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

RAF Mildenhall should become a rapid response station for London and the South East, once the US Airforce leave? The runway is possibly the longest in the UK, and the infrastructure recently refurbished. QRA could be stationed there on state occasions and emergency hospital located permanently, but not necessarily operational other than when required. This airbase is too good to consign to history and cover its runway with houses.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

I think it was still being used for QRA on an “as & when” basis. So it was available when needed. When did RAF Leeming go? I think it was around the same time that Wattisham got shut down from even its part time status. I think that was to fund ops in Afghanistan. I know it was before the 2012 Olympics, as many thought it was crazy to cut back QRA when that was coming to London. If Wattisham is still available, I would like 2 flights of Typhoon tranche 1 (8 in total), for a true Southern QRA.… Read more »

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

So the AAC have Wattisham for their Apache. The RAF is still there with a parachute unit. The QRA hardened shelters were used by RAF air sea rescue Sea Kings for many years after the Phantoms left. I do not think it impossible to mix in 8 Typhoons if need be.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Upper Heyford is a business park.

Yeovilton has no HAS, I would not put F35 there.

The 3 Squadrons of F3 at Leeming were all disbanded long before 2010.
The station remains operational.

Wattisham may become available depending on Joint Helicopter Commands Project Belvedere.
Much more likely to be retained by the army than reopened as an RAF Station, though the HAS and associated infrastructure remain.

James M
Guest
James M

Leeming also has two HAS complexes from its QRA days, that are only used for exercises currently.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

Leeming might be a good choice for a 2nd RAF F-35 base, when numbers get to big for just Marham.

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

Oops, to should be too, before the punctuation police come after me.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Agree.

Pacman27
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Pacman27

Surely it makes sense to spread these across 4 or more sites but have the maintenance done at 1 or more hub sites.

I do worry about the resilience of our infrastructure.

julian1
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julian1

I always think we have weak coverage from the south west. if the Chinese achieve blue water CSG and use it in the atlantic, that may have to change. Or civvy traffic with faulty transponders flying from the Americas for that matter

BB85
Guest
BB85

That is still more than 10 years away. Their Russian knock off planes can just about take off from the carriers on low fuel.

julian1
Guest
julian1

perhaps, but it takes 10 years for the MOD to plan for anything, so start thinking now. doesn’t have to be a permanent QRA. An upgraded airfield with HAS and infrastructure. could even be conducted by RN with F35B from Yeovilton or Culdrose

Andy P
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Andy P

Surely that could be done at pretty short notice.

Julian1
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Julian1

Taken long enough for marham

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Was already reported as being planned for years ago.

Whether anything concrete came from it I do not know, but Yeovilton and Boscombe are designated a QRA stations for the South West.

Robert blay
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Robert blay

Why do you think the Chinese are going to attack the uk?

Julian1
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Julian1

Did I say that? Just said that if the Chinese achieves its ambitions of a blue water navy and carrier air power, they may well represent a threat in the Atlantic in years to come. 2021 QE goes to S China Sea, think the Chinese may well reciprocate when they have the capability.

Andy P
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Andy P

Julian1, I know things get lost here as it can be a bit higglity piggilty but if we’re using the F35’s, surely we can use bases at relatively short notice and build up the support as required ? Perks of the vstol’ly stuff.

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

I’m talking an additional MOB, HAS, pads, upgraded facilities. If we ever end up with 138 f35s, can’t see marham taking all of them, even if they are not all in service at the same time

Robert blay
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Robert blay

I dont think we would need QRA in the south west to cover a Chinese carrier, Typhoons from Coningsby can get to Cornwall in about 15 minutes, and with Voyager support from Brize, they can stay on station for a good few hours. And we would have plenty of intelligence on Chinese naval movements if we really felt the need to reposition aircraft to a closer airfield.

Gee
Guest
Gee

When daydreaming about fantasy forces, my QRA set up is 3 sqns of T1 ac: 6 @ Lossie for QRA North Sqn, A Flt; 6 @ Leeming QRA N Sqn, B Flt; 6 @ Coningsby QRA Midlands Sqn, A Flt; 6 @ Northolt QRA Midlands Sqn, B Flt; 6 @ Yeovilton QRA South Sqn, A Flt; 6 @ Mount Pleasant QRA South Sqn, B Flt. While supersonic transit times across the UK are low, *sometimes* less than timely HO of tracks from the continent would make this base set up the most responsive. Considering the availability of GCI, I wouldn’t… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

I know I’ve mentioned this before on UKDJ, but adding a few squadrons of Grippen E’s would cleary serve in this role already cleared to use Meteor and would be useful in an anti-shipping role at roughly half the cost of a Typhoon. Given our budget constraints, this would make a great deal of sense not least as we will partner them on project Tempest allowing the sharing of future technologies between Grippen and Typhoon. Used on CAP and low-intensity conflicts like Syria as an example, airframe hours would also be greatly reduced on the Typhoon fleet. “Almost any weapon… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Just found this link.

“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/

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

The Typhoon is purpose designed as an interceptor/ dogfighter. Why purchase a foreign plane when have one of our own?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Cost, plus not so foreign as one might think Trevor.

“On a bright summer’s morning in Linköping, Sweden, the Saab Gripen E successfully completed its first flight with avionics systems on-board designed and built in the UK by Leonardo.”

https://www.uk.leonardocompany.com/en/news-and-stories-detail/-/detail/leonardo-on-board-as-the-saab-gripen-e-takes-to-the-skies

Trevor
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Trevor

Yes i know some 15% of Gripen is built in UK. However our Typhoons have significant UK content and are built in UK and have UK development provinence.
If UK content of Gripen could be inreased and built here, then it strikes me as plausible. However, maintenance etc would surely complicate things…??
The Tempest alliance is a good thing and if any link with Gripen were logical then co-operation might be valid. But is it really??

Mike
Guest
Mike

It’s ‘ provenance ‘

Trevor
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Trevor

Well I’ll go to the bottom if our stairs.

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

Ssssh, the speeling Gestapo will here you.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Re “If UK content of Gripen could be increased and built here, then it strikes me as plausible. However, maintenance etc would surely complicate things…??”

I know that the Eurojet EJ200 was under consideration at one point, so, a possible inclusion for UK specs to increase content? Changing the current engine from hot takes one hour turn around time.

It also has the benefit of being of taking off from short runways and roads if required to do so.

https://saab.com/air/support-solutions-and-services/airborne-platform-support-solutions/gripen-support/

Robert blay
Guest
Robert blay

It doesn’t make any sense to spend a very large amount of money, to buy a fleet of aircraft that will be less capable then what we have already got. The money is better spent on further developing Typhoon and F35. Both are first class for the QRA role.

Robert blay
Guest
Robert blay

It would cost a very large amount of money to buy Gripen, money that would be better spent of Typhoon and F35. And it wouldn’t reduce airframe hours in Typhoon, they would just be used for somthing else, and continued training, and participation in exercises. And the flying they do over Syria, is pretty low intensity flying, lots of flying in straight lines on patrol, and not putting alot of ‘G’s through the airframe.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

How much if you don’t mind me asking?

Some more interesting facts re comparisons between the two aircraft C/D.

“updating the tech in the Gripen would close the gap in capabilities”
It already has, the E & F.

Read more https://aviatia.net/gripen-vs-eurofighter/

Robert blay
Guest
Robert blay

I don’t know how much a Gripen E costs, but it won’t be cheap. And the MOD doesn’t have the cash to buy even a small number of them, and why would they? We have Typhoon and F35, both more capable then the Gripen. Buying a small fleet of less capable aircraft won’t save any money. Gripen would be a ‘nice to have’ if the MOD had billions of spare cash, and we had nothing better to spend it on. But we both know they haven’t. And if they did have a tone of spare cash, they would buy more… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Personally, I say very good value for the money. I’ve seen it mentioned many times that the new Grippen is half the cost of Typhoon on an airframe for airframe basis. That’s twenty hardpoints instead of fourteen I believe? Next-gen RBS 15 Gungnir MK4 (300km+) will enter service in 2024 making this an even greater deterrent if we include it onboard Typhoon as well. It can be launched from both sea and land as well. So, with our limited budget, I would opt for these rather than more Typhoons. Doubling the number of airframes and concentrate on the joint development… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

I’ll leave it here, but in answer to your comment in relation to the Typhoon being a superior aircraft? “Gripen pilots don’t like to show their cards by demonstrating the full power of the jet’s jamming in training. But the one time they did, it completely reversed the course of the mock battle in training, Bronk said. “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… Read more »

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

The other issue was that the German Typhoons (sorry Eurofighter 2000s) don’t have the Pirate IRST system. So in effect are missing a significant portion of their capabilities. The Pirate IRST I would say is more important in some respects than the Typhoon’s Captor radar. For starters its passive, so won’t give the aircraft away. But more importantly will give a live optical image of the target, so it can be more easily identified. The Captor radar can do the same, but its more reliant on comparing the radar reflection with a stored data library. A good example to compare… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Thank you for your informative comment DavyB, you will most probably be interested in the attached link.

On a side note, could the Grippen install the Pirate IRST system?

Looking forward to hearing your reply.

https://www.quora.com/How-does-an-F-35-radar-compare-to-the-radar-fitted-to-a-Gripen-E-F

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

I see no reason why Pirate could not be installed. It depends on how much “free” space is available around the radar. It may be better to go down the F15/F22 route where an IRST is mounted to a weapons pylon. Good points raised on Qora by Anders et al. However, the Selex Raven radar is a based on the architecture of the Captor-E. The back end is the same to a point i.e. the processing and general layout. However, there are some significant differences. Thankfully, both make use of the swash-plate to increase the viewing angle of the radar.… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

The question remains, will we ever see it installed on our Typhoon fleet? Grippen already has theirs installed and working which is again a plus particularly if we factor in increased costs if partner nations like Italy drop out. “The fact is that, while the electronically-scanned Captor-E radar first flew on Eurofighter in 2007, and while the four partner nations have spent €1 billion on its full-scale development, so far none of the four has decided to retrofit it to its Typhoons. It has become even touchier since the United Kingdom decided not to retrofit the Captor-E to its own… Read more »

julian1
Guest
julian1

is there a case to sell Typhoon to Sweden as part of a deal? Surely Gripen is no match for the latest Russian adversary so using the same logic, the Swedes should have a need too. That would allow both nations to build up experience on the two airframes as they potentially converge with Tempest.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

I posted this link above so the chances of that happening would be slim at best. Never say never!

“Gripen, especially the E-model, is designed to kill Sukhois. There we have a black belt,” Helgesson told Yle at a presentation in Finland, where Sweden is trying to export the jets.

Russia’s Sukhoi fighters have achieved a kind of legendary status for their ability to out-manoeuvre US fighter jets in dogfights and pull off dangerous and aggressive stunts in the air, but Gripen may have cracked the code.”

https://www.businessinsider.com/sweden-built-a-russian-fighter-jet-killer-and-stealth-is-irrelevant-2019-2?r=US&IR=T

Robert blay
Guest
Robert blay

RAF Tornado F3’s got kills against Indian SU35’s. In exercises back in 2007. It’s no big deal for a Gripen to shout about really. That article reads like somthing from the Daily Mirror 🙈

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Where talking about the Sukhoi Su-57.
Never read the Daily Mirror by the way but I’ve clearly been missing out!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Insider

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

That’s Russia’s latest fighter, which begs the question, if its no big deal as you put it, why are you prepared to spend twice as much on more Typhoons or additional F35’s as you clearly mentioned in an earlier thread if the Grippen can fill that role?

Quite a bit to shout about I’d say!

Rob
Guest
Rob

Do you have shares in Saab?

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Yawn

Ulya
Guest
Ulya

India does not operate Su35, they have Su30mk

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

There’s very little point in purchasing the Gripens. This is because we pretty much have a dedicated QRA aircraft in the Tranche 1 Typhoons. Due to their limited air to ground capabilities they were kept purely for air interception duties. In some respects the Gripens is a better aircraft as the E/F version can carry Meteor, whilst at the moment the Tranche 1 Typhoon cannot. In the short term I don’t believe we will go to 3 fighter types, in the future yes, Typhoon, F35 and perhaps Tempest. But in these days of austerity, the extra cost for training, maintenance… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Thank you for your informed comment DaveyB, I thought you would be interested to read the link below as to the comparisons between the Gripen-E-F and F35 radars. Between now and the introduction of Tempest into front line service (15yrs at best) my concern is having enough aircraft short term on a limited budget that can engage potential aggressors in air combat as well as defend against large surface fleets hence my suggestion, the Grippen E/F. Already capable of filling both roles from 2024 onwards when the MK4 Gungnir enters service and roughly half the price of Typhoon, would it… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

I should have said selling the Tranche 1 and using the monies from the sale to help in the funding of the Grippen E/F.

We currently have 53 T1 67 T2 and 40 T3 Typhoons totalling 160 aircraft. And as you quite rightly say the Trance 1’s are unable to use Meteor at present.

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Oops, see above. In some respects the Tranche 1 Typhoon equipped with the Captor-M will be outclassed by the Gripen’s Raven radar. Due to the arrangement of the captor’s flat panel array it would be comparable with the Raven in terms of detection range fidelity. I mean when the reflected signal can be properly interrogated and matched to a known threat signature. The Captor-M has phenomenal range for an “old school” pulse-doppler radar. However, at range as I mentioned above with limited beam-forming the beam will be quite widely dispersed. The Gripen’s Raven although not as powerful is more economical,… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

NSM would do the job admirably as you quite rightly say and with a reasonable stockpile of both these and the RBS-15 Mk4 severe as a very useful deterrent to any possible adversary for a relatively low investment overall.

As I mentioned in the post above lol, can we hope to see AESA fitted to our Typhoon fleet in the future?

https://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/feature/5/203668/aesa-radar-still-lacking-as-eurofighter-looks-to-future-improvements.html

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Yes, I believe so! Kuwait will field the first Typhoons fitted with Captor-E. This will be the radar 1 standard. The Luftwaffe has announced that they will start fielding Captor-E from 2025 (but haven’t said what version). The MoD have held back, why? I am convinced part of the reason is due to the feedback from pilots/engineers working on the F35 program. The APG-81 is a generation leap over previous radars in capability. This is especially true when you include the ability to use it as a wideband data-link and narrowband jammer. These two features alone haven’t really been used… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Pleased to hear we are not stalling on this one.

As for the thought, very interesting indeed! Let us hope the government of the day stumps up defence spending for this and other much-needed projects that we require, including speeding up the delivery of Type 26 and 31’s.

dan
Guest
dan

No way you could really use a Meteor long range missile since all air contacts would need to be VID’d before firing on them fearing shooting down a commercial or private aircraft.

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Disagree. Two different scenarios: 1. Aircraft operating on QRA, which is responding to an aircraft alert issued by ATC which is not answering communications. Yes, you would need to do a visual identification of the target. The pilot will try to get the aircraft to respond to commuincations by radio whilst checking the cockpit for duress or incapacitation. The pilot will try using visual communication starting with a whiteboard message. If that fails they will use other means to get their attention. 2. Wartime. A target has been detect by an AWACs or by the Typhoon’s radar and matches a… Read more »

Mark B
Guest
Mark B

Job well done. Rapid reaction seems to be a theme in the last few days.

julian1
Guest
julian1

does anybody know the details yet – what/who was the unidentified aircraft?

James
Guest
James

Apparently a privately owned 767 flying from Israel

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

Maybe a couple of Hawks could do for the ‘internal’ stuff instead of the high end gear. Dunno, just with all this talk of Grippens or whatever, could we not just go with what we’ve got ??

Hawks = Type 31 ?????

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Dunno. I think there is still a decent sized pool of Hawk T1, how many are operational I do not know. RAFAT ( Red Arrows ),4 FTS, with a mere 28 Hawk T2’s, 100 Squadron, 736 NAS, and the AMF ( Aviation Medicine Flight ) are all we have. All with other roles in high demand. So using dets of that pool of aircraft elsewhere for short range QRA , just seems a bit naff when the Typhoons are there. I know 88 of the Hawks were modified to carry Sidewinder and work as pairs with F3’s in the Cold… Read more »

BB85
Guest
BB85

The issue with Hawks is they are too slow. The whole point of QRA is that its last minute and you need to arrive on scene as soon as f’ing possible to ensure if a plane has been high jacked or lost communication it can be identified as soon as possible and guided to safety.

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

I’m not really advocating it, it would be a much cheaper option than buying a whole new aircraft type though.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

I wanted the UK MoD to buy the 12 Hawk Mk 63 that Jordan put up for sale 2 years ago.