Exercise Olive Grove – 3 Para training with Jordanian Army

Exercise Olive Grove has been undertaken by members of 3 Para who have been working with Jordan’s elite Quick Reaction Force on developing a range of infantry skills against the backdrop of the country’s harsh desert climate.

Major Rick Lewin, Officer Commanding of C Company, 3 Para told said:

What we’re trying to do is demonstrate the way we operate and give the Jordanians an opportunity to decide if they like that. Simultaneously, our soldiers are doing precisely the same thing, they’re watching the Jordanians whose shooting on the range is incredibly accurate, and also they were moving through the cover incredibly efficiently and quickly, so this is very much going both ways all the way through.

Typhoons deployed to Romania

RAF Typhoon no.3(f) squadronEurofighter Typhoon FGR.4s from the Royal Air Force’s No.3 (Fighter) Squadron based at RAF Coningsby have now deployed to Romania as part of the expansion of NATO’s air policing mission over Eastern Europe. Four aircraft and up to 150 personnel (air and ground crew) deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in south east Romania on Monday with the deployment expected to last up to four months. After a period of acclimation, the aircraft are reported to formally start operations by May 1st.

Images taken of the pilots taking off from Coningsby show that they are using the new £250,000 Striker II helmet which according to BAE Systems’ own website;

Striker II is a fully digital solution that provides today’s combat pilot with exceptional night vision and target tracking technology within a fully integrated visor-projected HMD system.

BAE Systems’ Striker helmet-mounted display system is based on the company’s unique two-part helmet design. It provides comfort, protection, and helmet stability for fixed- and rotary-wing platforms.

The RAF has had a long history patrolling NATO’s border with Russia having led four deployments of fighter aircraft as part of the alliance’s Baltic air policing mission since 2004. In those instances the aircraft have largely been the sole air defence asset for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. However, Romania has its own fighter force built around the MiG-21 LanceR – an upgraded version of the legendary but increasingly ageing MiG-21 “Fishbed”. The far more modern RAF aircraft will have to integrate in to Romania’s air defence network.

The deployment is part of NATO’s expanded effort to reassure its eastern members that it remains committed to their protection. It has also been reported in the Romanian press that the deployment of NATO fighters to their country is in direct response to a dramatic increase in the number of interceptions carried out by the Romanian Air Force of Russian aircraft over the Black Sea in recent months.

Romania will also host a large scale NATO exercise in July that U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm said in March would include up to 30,000 NATO troops.

News Round-Up – April 24th 2017

RAF A400M Atlas Airbus

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General News

Plan to opt out of rights accords in future wars dangerous, inquiry hears
(The Guardian)

NATO intercepting highest number of Russian military planes since the Cold War
(Independent)

MoD seeks Amazon-style delivery drones to resupply troops on the frontline
(The Telegraph)

Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon visits Stevenage to announce £539 million missile contracts
(Hertfordshire Mercury)

UK man buys old Iraqi tank on eBay — and what he finds inside is truly amazing
(The Blaze)

Veteran support centre wins share of £940k funding from Ministry of Defence
(Penarth Times)


British Army News

Estonia ceremony marks deployment of UK troops
(The Telepgraph)

Man tries to locate the families of the owners of more than 14,000 British Army dog tags
(Military Times)

Army regiment holds event to thank North-east for support
(Aberdeen Evening Express)

Row breaks out on Culloden anniversary over claim ‘British redcoats acted like Islamic State’
(Herald Scotland)


Royal Air Force News

RAF A400M Atlas pilots test out short landing abilities at Dundee Airport 
(Evening Telegraph)

Moray air crews join American and French in massive aerial combat exercise
(Press and Journal)

RAF flights distressing farm animals
(Swindon Advertiser)


Royal Navy & Marines

UK MoD negotiates £1.4bn contract for Royal Navy’s sixth Astute-class submarine
(Naval Technology)

UK MoD sets timetable for nuclear sub base renewal
(IHS Janes)

Clyde steel cutting ceremony marks start on Royal Navy ship
(Clyde Bank Post)

UK Maritime Forces Onboard French Task Force Visit Vietnam
(Second Line of Defense)

Devon marines to fight against terrorists and pirates at sea
(Devon Live)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

Restoration of a 1944 GMC – Crowdfunder Appeal

David Chambers and his father are looking for supporters of their project to restore this 1944 GMC 353 H1 tipper that he and his father have saved from the scrapheap. Based in South Wales, the father and son duo have saved and restored several US World War II vehicles in the past and displayed them at numerous events for enthusiasts and the public alike to experience these pieces of history first hand.

1944 GMC 353 H1 tipper

As well as helping restore the vehicle, there are benefits to donating a list of which can be found on the group’s crowdfunder page which you can link to below.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/restoration-of-a-1944-gmc

Just three of their collection.
I had the pleasure of viewing some of their impressive collection recently so I can I promise you they know what they are doing.

Do you have an event or charity you would like to promote on Defence of the Realm? If so then feel free to email the details to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. 

 

Crashed in Iran: Final flight of Vulcan XJ781

In 1955, the UK entered in to an alliance that with the benefit of hindsight seemed doomed to failure. It was known under a few names, it initially being referred to as the Baghdad Pact or the Middle East Treaty Organisation (METO) but was most commonly referred to as the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO). The origins of the alliance can be traced back to a year prior when Turkey and Pakistan signed a treaty of mutual cooperation on defence matters. Encouraged by the United States in 1955, a new agreement was penned that added Iraq, Iran and perhaps most significantly the United Kingdom however the US itself was held back from formal involvement until 1958.

In a nutshell, CENTO’s role was modelled along the lines of NATO in Western Europe with the goal being to establish a series of militarily powerful countries on the Soviet Union’s southern flank and to counter any communist revolutionary forces emerging in the Middle East. It was headquartered in Baghdad, Iraq until 1958 when Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim of the Iraqi Army overthrew and killed the last King of Iraq, King Faisal II. Iraq then withdrew from CENTO and the headquarters was moved to Ankara in Turkey.

The 1960s were a tough time for the organisation. It’s existence was heavily criticised for its lack of action to help curb the first Indo-Pakistan War, the Six Day War, tensions between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus and it’s seeming lack of ability to prevent Communist revolutionary forces rising up across the Middle East. Even the UK and US, who should have been its biggest supporters, often bypassed it when dealing with specific issues and countries in the region. The US had to especially tread carefully when dealing with CENTO because of the strong pro-Israel lobby in Washington which viewed the alliance with suspicion.

For the UK, its military bases on Cyprus were of high importance for the alliance with the RAF’s Near East Air Force providing a nuclear strike capability with Avro Vulcan B.2s from early 1969. The aircraft were operated by Nos.9 and 35 Squadrons out of RAF Akrotiri which was by then the only RAF station left on the island after RAF Nicosia was forced to close in 1966 to become Cyprus International Airport.

One of the advantages of being a member of CENTO was that British military units could undertake deployments to member states which for RAF crews allowed them to gain invaluable experience operating over the Middle East. It was not uncommon for the long range Vulcans to fly to Iran or Turkey on goodwill flights or to train with their respective air forces and one place they would regularly visit was Shiraz Air Base in south-west Iran.

Avro Vulcan XJ781 B.2On May 23rd 1973, one such visitor to Shiraz was Avro Vulcan B.2 XJ781 operating with No.9 Squadron which, having completed a routine training mission turned towards the Iranian base for landing. In this instance, the usual crew of five were joined by a sixth man, an officer from the Imperial Iranian Air Force who was aboard acting as an observer. This was not uncommon but often proved problematic for the British crews as the observers almost never spoke any English leading to safety briefings being conducted with pointing at things hoping he understood. The observers also liked to smoke during the flight.

All had gone well until it came time to lower the undercarriage ready for landing. While the nose and starboard undercarriage legs lowered successfully, the port leg refused to budge despite the efforts of the crew. Low on fuel, the crew had no choice but to attempt an emergency landing at Shiraz. The ground personnel at Shiraz immediately went in to action and began spraying down foam across one of the two runways at the base in an attempt to cushion the port wing when it inevitably made contact with the ground and reduce the chance of fire. With the runway sufficiently doused down, the aircraft made its landing attempt.

The Vulcan touched down on its starboard undercarriage with pilot Flight Lieutenant John Derrick fighting to keep the wings level before the nosewheels made contact with the ground. The aircraft ran on just the starboard and nose wheels for a short while before the port wing was lowered as carefully as possible on to the ground. With the wing scraping along the foam-soaked runway it began pulling the aircraft to the left, sending it veering off the runway and across an adjacent gully that was not marked on any maps of the airfield. The nosewheel fell in to the gully and was sheered off followed quickly by the starboard undercarriage leaving the Vulcan to slam down on to its belly before finally sliding to a halt. As the aircraft slid across the ground, the bomb aimer’s window in the blister under the nose shattered sending clouds of dust in to the lower deck of the cockpit while the navigator’s table collapsed temporarily trapping the two navigator’s by their knees. Aside from the bruised knees, the five crew and the Iranian observer were all unhurt and with the crew hatch stuck against the ground they left the aircraft through the canopy which had been ejected after the undercarriage collapsed.

Avro Vulcan XJ781 Iran Shiraz crash

Flight Lieutenant John Derrick in front of the crashed XJ781 at Shiraz (Courtesy James Rich)

A maintenance team from Akrotiri was flown out aboard a Hercules cargo plane and immediately declared the crash as a Category 5(C) meaning it was beyond repair or salvage. The Iranians agreed to accept the airframe as scrap but insisted that British engineers familiar with the aircraft remove key military components. Thus, after twelve years of service XJ781 ended its days being broken up on a dusty Iranian airfield.

In many ways the crash of such a symbol of British military power as a V-Bomber symbolised the ailing position Britain found itself in when dealing with CENTO. A year after the crash, Turkey invaded Cyprus in defence of Turkish Cypriots following a military coup organised by the Greek Junta. This forced Britain to withdraw all military support for Turkey and consequently CENTO itself which from then on existed only on paper. In 1979, whatever remained of CENTO was dissolved in the wake of the Iranian Revolution.


Thanks to James Rich, Flight Lieutenant John Derrick’s nephew.

 

News Round-Up – April 16th 2017

British army tank challenger ii warrior ifv

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General News

USAF F-35A Lightning IIs arrive at RAF Lakenheath
(Eastern Daily Press)

Islamic State poses more of a threat to UK than North Korea, says former head of British military
(Mirror)


British Army News

MoD is accused of conducting a £6million ‘computer witch-hunt’ against the SAS
(Daily Mail)

First female British Army officer commissioned into Royal Tank Regiment
(Telegraph)

Saab signs support contract extension with British Army
(Evertiq)

Derry teenager killed by British army in 1972 was innocent, coroner rules
(Guardian)


Royal Air Force News

How many bombs has Britain dropped in 2017?
(BBC)

Paveway IV leads UK investment in munitions replenishment for anti-ISIS fight
(DefenseNews)

Italian Air Force T-346A and RAF Hawk T2 jet trainers conduct joint training at Decimomannu airbase
(The Aviationist)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Royal Navy escorts two Russian warships through Channel
(Guardian)

MoD appoints nuclear chief to help keep Dreadnought submarines on course
(Telegraph)

Will HMS Ocean Find a Buyer in Asia?
(The Diplomat)

Royal Navy is set to step in after crew supports action on pay
(Herald Scotland)


Disclaimer: all news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them.

Tornado GR.4s participate in Frisian Flag 2017

Panavia Tornado GR.4 No.31 Squadron Goldstars paveway brimstone

The RAF has been putting six Tornado GR.4 aircraft and their crews from No.31 Squadron through the gruelling two-week-long exercise, Frisian Flag 2017, which was held at Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands. Beginning on March 27th and culminating on April 7th, the large scale exercise saw aircraft from several NATO members get airborne twice a day for a series of mock battles which saw the RAF aircraft act as the Red Force – the bad guys.

The primary purpose of Frisian Flag 2017, as well as honing combat skills, was to provide the participating units experience in combined NATO operations within a modern threat environment. The RAF Tornado GR.4s were joined by USAF F-15 Eagles, French Mirage 2000s, German Typhoons and an assortment of F-16 variants from several NATO countries. Missions undertaken included air defence and escort missions for the fighter aircraft while strike aircraft such as the Tornados were assigned to attack high priority ground targets and conduct defence suppression operations.

Wing Commander Matt Bressani of No.31 Squadron said;

Working with NATO countries helps us to better understand our own strengths and weaknesses by testing each other’s defences. With the Tornado GR4 going out of service in a few years’ time, this is an ideal opportunity to train our crews for their future beyond this air frame.

The last Tornado GR.4 is expected to be withdrawn from frontline service in 2019 with much of its strike tasking being undertaken by upgraded Typhoons. The Ministry of Defence has also said that the acquisition of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II will be stepped up in order to create an additional frontline RAF squadron by 2023.