jump to navigation

First we get the jet interceptors… And then? February 5, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
trackback

Flicking idly through P.ie recently I happened across this, a discussion on whether Ireland should have a military air interception capability. I’d love that. Imagine them over Dublin at parades, sweeping across the city. Loud. Fast.

Kind of useless though.

Problem is that it’s near impossible to offer a reasonable use case given the expense. Reading through comments apparently although Switzerland has fast-jets it doesn’t have 24 hour coverage of its own airspace. Why so?

“Switzerland cannot intervene because its airbases are closed at night and on the weekend,” spokesman Laurent Savary told AFP. “It’s a question of budget and staffing.”

But there’s more. This is sort of familiar…

In peacetime the Swiss Air Force does not maintain 24/7 operational readiness status, due to the limited budget and staff available. However air-defence radar coverage is maintained 24/7.[29] One major problem in defending Swiss airspace is the small size of the country;[citation needed] the maximum extension of Switzerland is 348 km, a distance that commercial aircraft can fly in little over 20 minutes and military jets even more quickly. Noise-abatement issues have traditionally caused problems for the Air Force because of the tourist industry.[30] Due to these reasons, the Swiss Air Force participates increasingly in air-defence training exercises with their Austrian,Italian, French or German counterparts. In recent years,[which?] this has included operations for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, the Euro 2008 football championships and the annual World Economic Forum.[30]

Ireland is ‘longer’ north/south, but they’re not dissimilar in size.

But regardless the point still stands. There’s no case at all for this. Air defence? If they’re coming we’re screwed – though I guess some surface to air capability mightn’t be the worst idea in the world. Now, beefing up our fishery protection/coastguard service is a different matter.

Advertisements

Comments»

1. dublinstreams - February 5, 2017

story in the ST that May couldn’t use Casement because it only deals our with helicopters after dusk http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/british-pm-denied-permission-to-land-5pb7qk8c9

Like

2. CL - February 5, 2017

“Civil servants from the 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 for Defence, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The agreement permits the British military to conduct armed operations in Irish sovereign or Irish-controlled airspace in the event of a real time or envisaged threat of a terrorist-related attack from the skies on either this country or a neighbouring state.”
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/raf-tornado-jets-could-shoot-down-hijacked-planes-in-irish-airspace-414646.html?utm_source=recirc&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=recirc

Like

3. FergusD - February 5, 2017

The IDF should get Eurofighters, probably could afford one. Or maybe the F-35, afford half of one.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/04/f-35-stealth-jet-fighter-uk-faces-billions-extra-cost

Real value for money these defense projects. Unlike the NHS etc which are, of course, far too wasteful, apparently and only save lives, patry stuff.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/chart-shows-hourly-cost-of-military-aircraft-2014-12

The Eurofighter is way up there on cost per hours of flight as well.

Best value is Saab Gripen, so maybe that is the best bet for the IDF. Sweden of course is also “neutral”. A no-brainer.

I like fast jets as much as another frustrated male pilot, but they seem utterly redundant by military logic, for air defense, never mind many other very good arguments.

Liked by 1 person

4. An Sionnach Fionn - February 5, 2017

Military folk rarely discuss this, for obvious reasons, but in terms of defending territorial air space comprehensive SAM-based systems out-perform aircraft-based defence every time. The cost-benefit ratio is pretty huge. Really, aside from offensive/ force-projection reasons, interceptors are basically for big territories or fly-by deterrence. If you’re geographically small SAMs are the only sensible choice. The likes of Belgium, Netherlands etc. have aircraft more because of NATO commitments than the actual domestic defence benefits they bring. Air superiorty over the battlefield can exist through an array of cheapish MANPADs and mobile batteries not crazy-priced uber jets.

Like

WorldbyStorm - February 5, 2017

Yeah, those are small countries. I think you’re spot on. Defence in depth – if necessary – from SAMs.

Like

EWI - February 6, 2017

Not worth a damn against any likely attacker (Brits or otherwise). There’s no point in our trying to have a conventional, comprehensive military capable of taking on a first-order military – a complete waste of money, we could never afford the types and numbers needed.

As regards interceptors (which are something quite different from air superiority fighters) we just need a few of something that can go fast and far, to intercept and escort from Irish airspace. Doesn’t need to be stealthy, manoeuvrable or even relatively ‘expensive’ – but it is a legal requirement on a neutral as defined under the Geneva Convention, in order to be revognised so (and agreeing with a NATO member to provide our air defence isn’t it!).

Of course, none of this gets around the fact that the ‘Don’ (Baldonnel) only really operates for a few hours during the day.

Like

EWI - February 6, 2017

Missile, by the way, are shockingly expensive per shot and obviously of no use whatsoever in interception/escort out of Irish airspace. The missiles in use by the Irish Defence Forces (please don’t call them the IDF) are for point-defence of units and locations, too expensive to be shot off more than a couple of times in a gunner’s career, and the launchers not bought in anything but tiny numbers compared to even the size of the Irish Army.

Like

An Sionnach Fionn - February 6, 2017

I agree that a national, missile-based air defence capacity is almost certainly beyond our financial capabilities, though not for the likes of several other medium sized European nations. Localised defence, around Dublin at least, is more viable, but still expensive. However even that would be cheaper than a squadron of modern military jets. Anything capable of intercept/escort/fly-by/deterrent duties would have to be towards the top-end of the market, otherwise it’s just all-show, no-go.

Do the protocols require the maintenance of military aircraft to be recognised as a non-belligerent in time of war? I genuinely didn’t know that. Totally agree. Having the RAF – or anyone else – doing intercept duties is pretty uncomfortable.

Yeah, the belief that Defence Forces Ireland (DFI / ÓÉ) could mount a conventional deterrent against a hostile power is a polite fiction. It’s all playacting stuff. I get the idea of a core, full-time brigade a couple of thousand strong along conventional lines for internal security duties and deployment in the north-east following reunification or whatever craziness comes from Brexit. Everything else though should be geared towards non-conventional, part-time methods along the lines pursued by Finland and other nations of similar size and capabilities.

In an ideal world I’d love to see a squadron of Super Tucanos based in Baldonnell. Though again, to what purpose? Especially when any hostile power could wipe them out before they could even get off the ground.

Like

EWI - February 6, 2017

Anything capable of intercept/escort/fly-by/deterrent duties would have to be towards the top-end of the market, otherwise it’s just all-show, no-go.

Not so. You don’t need anything stealthy or particularly dog-fightery to intercept anything like to require intercepting (most likely large long-range craft).

Yes, neutrality legally requires you to be able to (and willing to, of course) deny the use of your territory to belligerents.

I agree that the Irish Defence Forces should be mostly volunteer, with a small professional cadre (and fire most of the enormous officer corps, an expensive employment scheme for well-connected Blueshirts).

Tucanos would be very useful in a counter-insurgency role if needed. Against anyone else, just do a Saddam and fly them out of harm’s way to a third-party neutral for the duration of fighting.

p.s. It’s possibly just a personal peeve, even here in this place, but I find the use of the terms ‘Defence Forces Ireland’ to be offensively partitionist, and that of ‘Óglaigh na hÉireann’ to be pretentious and entirely unwarranted by the historical evidence.

Like

5. shea - February 5, 2017

if the air force was expanded could be used to train up the pilots for the state take over of ryanair when the day comes.

Liked by 1 person

6. 1729torus - February 5, 2017

HAL Tejas “only” costs $25million.

Like

7. ivorthorne - February 6, 2017

I would – generally speaking – agree with the article and the comments.

Having said that, by the time a scenario could emerge in which they’d be useful, it would be too late to order them (I suspect).

Like

8. CL - February 6, 2017

Not to worry. Its OK. We have the Brits to protect us. But a question about sovereignty.
“Neither the Oireachtas or the Irish people appear to have been consulted on this arrangement which effectively gives British politicians and British pilots the power to sanction and carry out shoot to kill operations in our controlled airspace.
If a passenger jet filled with civilians were to be hijacked mid-Atlantic and flown through our airspace – perhaps with Irish citizens on board – in theory, and in practice, British politicians and pilots would make the life and death decisions in such circumstances.”
http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/ireland-neutrality-uk-airspace-2924004-Aug2016/

Like

WorldbyStorm - February 6, 2017

That raises an interesting question as to what one does with a hi-jacked aircraft. I’d have thought in almost all instances the very last option would be to do something drastic. And there’s a further point, what precisely is the utility of being able to fly up to the aircraft – match speeds and gawk at it. Because that’s pretty much the totality of what can be done. And if drastic is the option then again – and I don’t disagree with EWI that SAMs have limited use really – though I’d be a bit more favourable to having them as an option than he, then SAMs are where it is at. Same decision. And then one has to factor in how often is a hijacking going to occur, particularly in this hyper secure period in relation to that, and what there responses are and is it worth having an air interception capability that can just about do that but nothing more against any serious air force and it still doesn’t add up really.

Like

EWI - February 6, 2017

And there’s a further point, what precisely is the utility of being able to fly up to the aircraft – match speeds and gawk at it. Because that’s pretty much the totality of what can be done.

Not at all. What happens is pretty much the aviation equivalent of ‘fair cop, guv’nor’, and they get escorted back out to where they’re entitled to be in international territory. This is the way it’s always worked, for many decades (no-one wants to push it to a shooting war).

Liked by 1 person

9. TC - February 6, 2017

We don’t need the latest and greatest aircraft and I think about a dozen active aircraft would be required and distributed around the country – Cork, Shannon and Dublin. Slovakia lease Gripen fighters from Saab for about 60 million Euro for 12 years on 14 aircraft, with maintenance and training included. Other options would be to purchase some older fighters in storage in the US – F-16’s or F-5s and the like. The best option would be Harriers, which have some air to air capability – there are some in storage in
the US (ex Marine Corps, AV-8 variant) But the bottom line is – it is seriously expensive regardless of what is chosen.

Or we can let the Brits take care of this problem for us 😉

Like

WorldbyStorm - February 6, 2017

Again, the same questions come into play as above. 14 aircraft is nothing against almost any conceivable adversary. They’re of very very limited use in all other circumstances. I’m no fan of depending on the British and I’d like a lot spikier profile on our neutrality and sovereignty over our airspace but in a way it is difficult to know what exactly are we depending upon them for?

Like

EWI - February 6, 2017

Harriers aren’t going to have the speed and range to be useful to us, unfortunately, and any surviving airframes are going to be seriously old and sxpensive to maintain by this stage.

14 Gripens is enough to enforce Irish airspace and thus Irish neutrality, which is really what we’re talking about here.

There is NO scenario in which we could afford or maintain the airforce required for sustained combat against anyone who could actually attack us at the present (Brits/Americans/Russians), so it would be horrendous folly to even try.

The present SAMs in use by the Irish Defence Forces are optically-guided (I really do mean ‘point defence’). By the time something’s in range of that, you need to be ready and about to fire. Anything with more range would be a much more expensive system.

The bigger question is about monitoring of Irish airspace. Do the Brits have a hook-in to Irish civil aviation authorities’ radar?

Like

Michael Carley - February 6, 2017

UK civil aviation is linked to Irish ATC: there is a shared control zone called “Shanwick”, and there is coordination between the two systems. If nothing else, UK control centres will pick up any traffic over Ireland anyway.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanwick_Oceanic_Control

Like

EWI - February 7, 2017

Sorry, what I meant was their military infrastructure. Because that would seem to be an undeniable infringement of any claims to Irish neutrality.

Like

Michael Carley - February 6, 2017

Harriers are a bit of a disaster, even on their own terms: poor safety record and no firepower.

https://warisboring.com/fd-how-the-u-s-and-its-allies-got-stuck-with-the-worlds-worst-new-warplane-5c95d45f86a5#.lj4r4soqg

Like

EWI - February 7, 2017

Harriers are a bit of a disaster, even on their own terms: poor safety record and no firepower

They fulfill(ed) a role for those who have or had nothing else better which could go to sea (the British had gotten rid of Ark Royal just a few years before the Falklands, and the US Marines justifiably want to be independent of US Navy aviators who’ve no real interest in close air support missions).

Like

Michael Carley - February 7, 2017

The view amongst those who know is that the F/A-18 works out better in practice, but Super Tucanos would be better still. As someone put it, the reason the US Marines have the Harrier is that they are still fighting Guadalcanal, which is the F35 is such a pig’s mickey (and will lose the US its next war against real opposition).

Like

CMK - February 7, 2017

That next war against real opposition could be years, maybe even months away. The US will get a very bloody nose if it attacks Iran – although it will ultimately prevail militarily, though at potentially huge cost.

The Private Eye have been cataloging the idiocy of the whole F-35 project for years.

Like

Michael Carley - February 7, 2017

Also worth looking at warisboring.com, and hushkit.net, who have been very good on the shambles, as well as Pierre Sprey on Counterpunch.

Like

EWI - February 10, 2017

As someone put it, the reason the US Marines have the Harrier is that they are still fighting Guadalcanal

They would of course rather bring their Marine F/A-18s with them, but the USM pocket aircraft (heli-) carriers obviously can’t fly them, so V/STOL aircraft such as the Harrier (or nothing).

Like

TC - February 7, 2017

I think maybe I’ll withdraw my remarks on the Harrier – I had it in mind as maybe a multi role aircraft that doesn’t need an airfield, but anyway…

Like

alanmyler - February 7, 2017

Very interesting article Michael, thanks.

Like

10. dublinstreams - February 6, 2017

why are we having this discussion at all? You can see in the oiriginal post on p.ie this is based on the fake news “that in recent months we have seen Russian aircraft flying through Irish airspace”, we havn’t they havn’t.

Like

EWI - February 6, 2017

I agree with the statement that this is based off a false premise (though it’d be interesting to see if the same right-wing p.ie blowhards suddenly have lost the outrage factor with the election of Putinphile Trump).

Also, for comedy value:

‘A British warship and three RAF Typhoons will keep “a close eye” on a Russian aircraft carrier and other ships as they sail past the UK.’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/38745364?client=safari

Like

Michael Carley - February 6, 2017

Should we send the LE Skibbereen Eagle out to help?

Like

EWI - February 7, 2017

I think Enda ought to offer it!

Like

11. alanmyler - February 6, 2017

I read somewhere within the past month, though I couldn’t find it afterwards, that Ireland’s spend on “defence” as a percentage of GDP was significantly less than the EU average. This was framed as something that should be brought into line, although without mentioning that Ireland isn’t a member of NATO which most of the EU are. From the perspective of big business it would make much more sense for that increased budget to go towards funding a hi-tech solution to a non-existant problem, purchase of incredibly expensive hardware, rather than being pissed away on wages etc by increasing the size of the permanent defence force. I would be more than surprised if there has never been any lobbying of the government by the likes of Lockheed Martin, pushing the F-35 as such a solution. And if the state’s finances improve what better way to prevent spend on social provision, getting in the way of the privatisation of everything, than to divert funds into military white elephants.

Like

EWI - February 6, 2017

I would be more than surprised if there has never been any lobbying of the government by the likes of Lockheed Martin

I think that the historical evidence is that there was an unspoken agreement (until Clinton) between the US and the UK to regard Ireland as being within the British sphere of influence, so maybe not American arms companies. But we already know how hard the British government goes in pushing foreign sales for their arms industry (especially the BAe octopus).

Like

Michael Carley - February 6, 2017

I did read a number of years ago that Ireland had a policy of spreading its arms purchasing so as not to be dependent on any single bloc (which at the time included the Warsaw Pact). I suspect there is still a similar policy, at least in terms of not depending on the good will of any one country. I don’t think Ireland has much in the way of UK equipment.

Like

An Sionnach Fionn - February 6, 2017

Not at the moment but a defence co-operation agreement was signed in 2015 by which the British gives us their military cast-offs in return for closer ties between Defence Forces Ireland and HM Armed Forces. It’s supposedly “…to provide the British with access to the peacekeeping expertise of the Irish defence forces”. Which is Fine Gael talk for rubbing up the Brits the right way.

I haven’t heard of anything substantial being “donated” so far.

Like

EWI - February 7, 2017

I haven’t heard of anything substantial being “donated” so far.

The intention is to, as the euphemisms go, strive towards ‘NATO standard’ and ‘interoperability’ (training, equipment and organisation).

Like

EWI - February 7, 2017

I don’t think Ireland has much in the way of UK equipment.

The Irish Army (the former National Army) has always aped the British version, and would I think buy their equipment if given the chance (this was a major factor in our entering the Emergency practically unarmed when we could have bought anything we liked off the USA).

The present rifle is the Austrian Steyr, but that can be attributed to (i) how bad the current British rifle was at the time and (ii) the Austrians taking a chunk of the butter mountain in exchange. The present ships are British, the APCs, SAMs and mortars ‘foreign’ (the Brits had nothing equivalent to sell), ditto for the fast propeller-driven trainers, while the helicopters were (as ever in recent decades) somewhat suspicious choices to purchase.

Like

Michael Carley - February 7, 2017

But then the 4WDs have tended to be Japanese, even when the Landrover was available, though the Scorpion is UK.

Like

EWI - February 9, 2017

The 4WDs are barely militarised road vehicles (and even then proving too expensive to use for transport. The new thing is just to buy black civilian motorcars as runabouts).

The Scorpions are part of the legacy of the partially-completed Haughey military spending spree of the early Eighties. They were the only viable mini-tanks at the time.

Like

CL - February 9, 2017

‘RAF fighter jets were dispatched to monitor two Russian bombers that flew near UK airspace on Thursday morning….
The pair of nuclear-capable Tupolev TU-160 Blackjack bombers were in the UK’s area of interest, but did not enter British territorial airspace….
A country’s airspace usually stretches 12 nautical miles from its coastline but it can, by international agreement, take responsibility for controlling parts of international airspace, like the UK does around the British Isles – its “area of interest”.”
http://news.sky.com/story/raf-jets-scrambled-to-monitor-russian-bombers-near-uk-airspace-10761505

Like

12. alanmyler - February 8, 2017
EWI - February 9, 2017

The Greek addiction to pointless sabre-rattling at their Turkush neighbours is a case in point for money thrown away for no point (what happens when the Turks buy F35s as well?).

Like

CMK - February 9, 2017

They have the second biggest Air Force in NATO after the US – over 400 front line fighters. The Germans had less than 250, by comparison. Bizarre given what that country has gone through.

Like

13. dublinstreams - February 9, 2017

look at this tweet/headline

Independent.ie ‏@Independent_ie

IAA confirmed Russian aircrafts were in Irish airspace, stating there was ‘no safety impact to civilian traffic’http://indo.ie/nlwz308QBql

then you read the article

“At no time did these aircraft enter Irish sovereign airspace”.

some journalistic ethics from RTE and the Indo etc would be far more cheaper then jet intercepters.

Like

EWI - February 10, 2017

An even better question for RTÉ would be if the RAF carried out exactly the same imagined sin as the Russians, seeing as though they were in proximity.

Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: