Tag Archives: Lossiemouth

NATO aircraft hunting Russian submarine near Scotland

NATO maritime patrol aircraft of France and Canada have come to the rescue of the Royal Air Force and are hunting a Russian sub off the coast of Scotland, according to some British sources on Monday 23 November 2015.

The Russian submarine was apparently detected a number of days ago just north of the United Kingdom. With the RAF having no anti-submarine capacity of its own, the UK Ministry of Defence called Paris and Ottawa. Two French Navy Dassault Atlantique 2 and a Royal Canadian Air Force Lockheed CP-140 Polaris are now forming the make-shift airborne maritime patrol fleet, operating out of RAF Lossiemouth.

The BAe Systems Nimrod MRA4 prototype during the 2007 RIAT at RAF Fairford. The project was later scrapped (Image © Marcel Burger)
The BAe Systems Nimrod MRA4 prototype during the 2007 RIAT at RAF Fairford. The aircraft was meant to be the future RAF sub hunter, but the project was later scrapped (Image © Marcel Burger)

Lossiemouth

London officially acknowledges the presence of “foreign aircraft” at Lossiemouth, but does not comment in length on their operations. Royal Navy sources however have confirmed the involvement of at least one frigate and a hunter-killer submarine in offshore operations in the area without releasing details.

Boeing P-8 Poseidon

If the NATO aircraft are indeed actively involved in “the hunt for Red November”, it marks the third time in 12 months this happens. Relieve is on the way, the Ministry of Defence just announced the purchase of nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft today. But since it will take a few years for the production to be done, NATO will likely have to step in again to serve Her Majesty’s once tough air weapon.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A French Navy Atlantique 2 (Image © Jacques Tonard / Marine Nationale)

British buy P-8 Poseidon, extra life for Typhoon

In a long awaited announcement, UK prime minister David Cameron on Monday 23 November stated the UK is buying nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as part of a strategic defense review. The decision ends a long period of uncertainty about which aircraft should follow in the footsteps of the famed but retired Nimrod. Futhermore, the UK is creating two more Typhoon squadrons.

The Poseidons will be based at Lossiemouth airbase in Scotland and provide the UK with a much needed longe range submarine hunting capability, search and rescue coverage and other maritime duties. The UK joins the US, India and Australia in operating the type. The Japanese Kawasaki P-1 patrol aircraft was also in the race to replace the Nimrod, but an unlikely candidate from the start.

Typhoon

A statement also says the UK will extend the life of multirole Typhoon fighter aircraft for 10 extra years through to 2040, meaning the Royal Air Force will be able to create 2 additional squadrons. This gives the British a total of frontline 7 squadrons, consisting of around 12 aircraft per squadron. Downing Street also announced an investment in Typhoon’s ground attack capability, plus the addition of the latest Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.

F-35

According to sources, London is also said to soon purchase up to 24 F-35B Lightnings to equip its two future aircraft carriers. So far, the British have ordered only ten aircraft, with three already delivered. In total, the UK is planning to get 138 F-35Bs over the next two decades, fulfilling an commitment for the 5th generation and stealthy aircraft made earlier.

Panavia Tornado

Also on the fast jet front, the Panavia Tornado is to retire in 2019, when the final two squadrons hand in their aircraft. Furthermore, 14 out of 24 C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft will remain in service between 2022 and 2030 to serve alongside new Airbus A400M airlifters.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Russian Bears are out again

In the cold skies over the English Channel, Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons met up with Russian Tu-95 Bears again on Wednesday 28 January. The Russian long range bombers aircraft were detected by the RAF Control and Reporting Centre in Boulmer, after which two Typhoons were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

The Typhoons visually identified and escorted the Russian aircraft through and out of the UK Flight Information Region (FIR). The Bears did not enter UK airspace. Air-to-air refueling for the Typhoons was provided by an Airbus Voyager MRTT from Brize Norton. Total mission time for the entire mission was 12 hours,  according to the RAF.

Last year, Russian aircraft became a familiar sight in Europe. Not only strategic bombers, but also tactical bombers such as the Su-34 Fullback showed themselves, sometimes at very close range. According to NATO, over 400 intercepts were carried out on Russian aircraft in 2014. Especially 28 and 29 October proved to be busy days.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Tu-95 intercepted by the RAF (Image © UK Ministry of Defence)

Round up: Russians intercepted in 2014

Amazingly close this Su-27 comes to the Swedish Air Force S 102B Korpen, imaged released by the Swedish Signal Intelligence Authority (Image © FRA)
In July, this Russian Air Force Su-27 came amazingly close to a Swedish Air Force S 102B Gulfstream IV.
(Image © FRA)

NATO on Wednesday 29 October 2014 sounded the alarm over Russian aircraft heading out in the skies over Europe far more often recently. So far in 2014, NATO fighter aircraft conducted over 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft, which is about three times more than were conducted in 2013. A round up of known intercepts is below.

Only last week, a Russian Il-20 spy plane was caught in international airspace after it took off in Kaliningrad and headed over the Baltic Sea towards Denmark. NATO F-16s soon caught up with it. On 21 September Danish F-16s along with fighter aircraft from Finland and Sweden (both non-members of NATO but participants in the Partnership for Peace program) chased two Tu-22M Backfires and two Su-27 Flankers, while on the same day German Typhoons played cat and mouse with two Flankers near the Baltics.

A Tupolev Tu-22M3 of the type that simulated attack on Sweden during Eastern 2013 (Image © Max)
A Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire medium range  bomber. (Image © Max)

Scotland
Royal Air Force Typhoons took off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland on 19 September, to intercept two Tu-95 Russian Bear H bombers in international airspace. Several days earlier, on Wednesday 17 September, Sweden picked up two Su-24 Fencers, which later were also shadowed by NATO aircraft.

On Thursday 28 August a Russian An-72 flew close to Helsinki, forcing the Finnish Air Force to send up F/A-18 Hornets. On 21 August, Danish, Dutch and UK fighters intercepted two Tu-95 Bears over the North Sea. The same thing happened in April.

Mainstay
In June, Royal Air Force Typhoons based in Lithuania met with four Russian Su-27s, two Tu22 Backfire bomber, one Beriev A50 Mainstay early-warning aircraft and an An-26 Curl transport aircraft.

The Beriev A-50U (No. 37), AWACS based on the Ilyushin IL-76 (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
The Beriev A-50U, AWACS based on the Ilyushin IL-76 (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

Body check
In July, A Russian Flanker ‘body checked’ a Swedish S-102B (Gulfstream IV) over the Baltic Sea. Another incident happened on 18 July 2014, when a US Air Force RC-135 spy plane was supposedly on the run for Russian aircraft over the Baltic Sea and trespassed Swedish airspace while doing so.

NATO Air Policing
As a reply to Russian interference in Ukraine, NATO fortified the Baltic Air Policing mission in the Baltic states and Poland earlier this year. Currently, Canadian F/A-18 Hornets, Portuguese F-16s, German Eurofighter Typhoons and Dutch F-16s are involved in this mission, flying from Ämari airbase in Estonia, Šiauliai airbase in Lithuania and Malbork in Poland. Meanwhile, Czech Air Force Saab Gripens are watching the skies over Iceland.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Like in the skies over the Baltic republics seen here over Šiauliai Airbase, the Canadian CF-188s will operate next to F-16s in Kuwait. In Lithuania it are Vipers from the Portuguese Air Force, in Kuwait it will be Fighting Falcons from the Royal Danish Air Force (Image © Cpl Gabrielle DesRochers / RCAF)
A Portuguese F-16 and a Canadian CF-18 Hornet break over Šiauliai Airbase.  (Image © Cpl Gabrielle DesRochers / RCAF)

Lossiemouth no longer on Tornado frontline

A RAF Tornado GR4 breaking right over RAF Fairford (Image © Marcel Burger)
A RAF Tornado GR.4 breaking right over RAF Fairford (Image © Marcel Burger)

RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland is no longer a frontline airbase for Britain’s Panavia Tornado strike aircraft. The last two operational GR.4 squadrons, 12 (Bomber) and 617 ‘Dambusters’ were disbanded on the base at 28 March 2014.

According to the UK Ministry of Defence 15 (Reserve) Squadron will keep flying from Lossiemouth until 2015 to train Tornado pilots that will move to the only frontline Tornado base left: RAF Marham in England. From there 2, 9 and 31 Squadron will soldier on until the final Tornado interdictor strike aircraft will be retired in 2019.

RAF Lossiemouth will regain its frontline fighter status after the Summer of 2014, when 1F and 6 Squadron flying the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 move north from their current home at RAF Leuchars. The role of the Tornado GR.4 strike aircraft will be performed by the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II in the future.

In 2016, the famous Dambusters of 617 squadron will reform to fly the F-35B. The squadron will then be located at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Source: UK MoD

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