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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

17 July 2015

Royal Air Force (RAF) Fights Modern Day ‘Battle of Britain’ Over Iraq and Syria

I believe we are fighting a new Battle of Britain,” said Michael Fallon, UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, during his keynote speech on the second day of the Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Power conference in London.

Fallon was refering to the RAF’s extensive operations against what he described as the ‘fascist’ forces of IS [so called Islamic State]. According to Fallon, “our TORNADO aircraft provide 70% of the coalition’s tactical recce capability and produce imagery of a higher standard than any other. Our REAPER’s capability matches that of the United States. In addition, we’re the only coalition country conducting manned ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] over Syria.”

He pointed to the RAF’s deployment of MBDA BRIMSTONE missiles and Goodrich RAPTOR reconnaissance pods used by TORNADO GR4 aircraft for ground attack, as well as Raytheon SENTINEL intelligence gathering aircraft alongside the Boeing RC-135W RIVET JOINT (Project Airseeker) and E-3 SENTRY aircraft. “We are delivering in total 30% of the ISR of the entire international operation in the Middle East,” he declared.

Ground crew load a PAVEWAY IV Laser Guided bomb onto an RAF TORNADO GR4's at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. (Photo: Crown)

Fallon said that the second AIRSEEKER would be delivered in August, seven months ahead of schedule.

The RAF AIRSEEKER RIVET JOINT RC-135W signals intelligence aircraft has state of the art airborne electronic surveillance capabilities

The Secretary of State for Defence was also not reluctant to point a finger at the threat posed by current “Russian expansionism.” He cited the increased frequency that the UK’s air defence fighters had been required to challenge and escort Russian long-range bombers that were pressing NATO’s air defences. He said that while on a visit to RAF TYPHOON crewsat Amari air base in Estonia, the jets had been launched from alert six times. He confirmed that the RAF’s deployment would be continued in 2016.

The news that the defence budget would be increased by 0.5% from next year alongside the announcement that the NATO requirement of 2% GDP spend on defence would be guaranteed until the end of the decade was, said Fallon, confirmation that defence remained, “the number one priority,” of the Conservative government. Efficiency savings would also be allowed to be reinvested by the RAF into the force.

The forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which he said had been going in ernest for the last six weeks and was expected towards the end of the year, would reflect how the UK was going to face the challenge of a world that had become, “a darker and a more dangerous place.”
Andrew Drwiega, Westminster, London

A RAF VOYAGER KC2 refuels two RAF TORNADO GR4, 4 March 2015, over Iraq. The RAF aircraft provide combat air support for the coalition against Da’esh. (Photo: USAF/Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

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