News Round-up – October 29th 2016

British soldier army 2013 defence images

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

British Army News

Poppy Appeal: Britain told to ‘rethink Remembrance’ with stories of younger army personnel

Incredible images from Army Photographic Competition showcase life in the forces
(Sunday Post)

Learning records: Concern expressed over Army access to pupils’ data

Royal Air Force News

RAF jets scrambled as passenger plane makes emergency landing
(The Guardian)

RAF awards Raytheon UK £131 million to continue Sentinel support

RAF prepares for war with major multinational drills in Germany involving jets and drones
(Daily Mail)

Royal Air Force Red Arrows debuts in Zhuhai Airshow
(Asia One)

RAF Typhoons Claim Win In Exercise With Malaysian Flankers
(Aviation Week)

Royal Navy & Marines News

Britain opens its first permanent military base in the Middle East in 40 years
(Daily Mail)

UK maritime personnel train the Libyan Coastguard
(Relief Web)

Royal Navy’s Top Minehunter Back On The Water
(Forces TV)

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


News Round-up – October 21st 2016



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

British Army News

British Army accused of racism after official tweet shows soldier wearing ‘blackface’ camouflage in jungle
(The Independent)

UK army chief in North Waziristan heaps praise on Pakistan Army
(Samaa TV)

Under-18s in army ‘face greater injury, death and mental health risks’
(The Guardian)

Sinn Féin protests at British army recruitment at university
(Irish Times)

Royal Air Force News

RAF Typhoon jet destroys an ISIS truck-bomb 20km south of Mosul
(Daily Mail)

The battle for Mosul: RAF jets pound ISIS positions
(Daily Mail)

Royal Air Force to Conduct First-ever Joint Drills in Japan Amid Strengthening Security Ties
(Aviation Pros)

Missing RAF serviceman’s family: How can he vanish in digital age?
(Sky News)

British [Red Arrows] perform in Singapore
(Global Times)

RAF Lossiemouth to undergo major revamp
(Press & Journal)

Royal Navy & Marines News

British Royal Navy keeps a watchful eye on Russia’s Northern Fleet as it heads for the Channel
(Daily Mail)

AI will help Royal Navy warships detect combat threats
(IT Pro)

First woman in charge of a Royal Navy main training base speaks of pride of leading HMS Raleigh
(Plymouth Herald)

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

Lord Rogan: Irish republican dissidents boast of one tonne of Semtex explosives

Lord Rogan, member of the Ulster Unionist Party has expressed his concern over the amount of Semtex explosives still in the hands of those opposed to the Northern Ireland peace agreement. Speaking to the Londonderry Sentinnel he said,

Even as recently as February of this year dissident republican terrorists were boasting that they have more than a tonne of Semtex plastic explosive that escaped the decommissioning process and could now be used against mainland British targets…They claim to have tested it and confirmed that it is still viable, even though it was smuggled to Ireland via Libya in the 1980s.

Semtex was invented in the 1950s by Stanislav Brebera in Czechoslovakia and has been widely used in commercial demolition as well as some military use. It has been widely used by terrorist organisations and was used in the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 which was destroyed by Libyan terrorists over Lockerbie on 21st December 1988.

During the Troubles of the 1970s and 1980s the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) used the explosive in conjunction with cases of commercial fertiliser. The relatively small amount of Semtex triggered a much larger explosion from the fertiliser.

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi supplied large quantities of Semtex to both organisations during the 1980s as well as a number of Islamic and Arab terrorist organisations as part of a wider campaign against the western powers chiefly France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.


Northern Ireland air cadets building aircraft for RAF centenary

17 squadrons of the Northern Ireland Wing of the Air Training Corps are undertaking an extraordinary project – to build a Sting S4 light aircraft in time for the 2018 Farnborough Air Show. 2018 will also mark 100 years of the Royal Air Force which was formed on April 1st 1918. The project is being supported by Boeing which itself is celebrating 100 years of being in the aviation business. Sir Michael Arthur, the president of Boeing Europe and managing director of Boeing UK told the Telegraph;

It is fitting that on the day of Boeing’s centenary when we are looking ahead to the next 100 years of aerospace innovation, we announced this new educational programme to benefit ATC cadets in Northern Ireland. These young men and women are the future of our industry and I could not be more proud that we can support this engaging, hands-on STEM initiative.

The Air Training Corps (ATC) has helped foster an interest in the RAF and aviation at large in young people for 75 years. It was preceded by the Air Defence Cadet Corps which was formed in 1938 before the issue of a Royal Warrant in 1941 established the Air Training Corps as it is today. In 2015 the Duchess of Cambridge assumed the title of Honorary Air Commandant of the Air Training Corps and at present there are around 1,009 squadrons within the organisation.

The aircraft the cadets are building, the Sting S4, is a single-engine, two-seat ultralight aircraft designed in the Czech Republic which first flew in 2010 and has been delivered to the cadets in kit form. The cadet’s assembly of the aircraft will be mentored by volunteers from Boeing and the Ulster Aviation Society.

NEWS: British Army careers day at Irish school causes anger in local community

British army careers recruitmentProving that despite the end of open hostilities Northern Ireland remains a divided land; a Ballygawley secondary school has received complaints from parents with nationalist backgrounds after a British Army recruitment team visited the school during a careers event. The decision to include British Army representatives has been branded “insensitive” given that many families in the area had lost family members in combat with British forces. Dungannon Independent Republican councillor, Barry Monteith, said that he shared parent’s “justifiable anger”.

One particularly vocal parent opposed to the decision was a cousin of Tony Gormley who was one of eight Irish Republican Army (IRA) men shot dead by members of the SAS in the Loughgall Ambush on May 8th 1987.

Ballygawley Principal Aidan Taggart told local reporters;

The College would never intend to cause offence or hurt to any member of our community. We welcome into our school, children of a range of cultures and faiths and we are educational partners with both maintained and controlled schools. With that in mind, we aim to provide as much factual information about a wide range of careers as we can to our student body whilst ensuring that such information is age appropriate so that students can make objective, informed choices about careers at the appropriate time.

It is in this context that a career event about Apprenticeships organised by STEMNET took place within the school. STEMNET provide ambassadors from a wide range of Industries and government organisations throughout Northern Ireland. We now appreciate the choice of Ambassador sent by STEMNET may have caused offence to some of our community and it would never have been our intention to do so.

An interesting comment on the Shorland SB300

It’s always rewarding to have first hand accounts passed on. This morning, Michael Howes made this interesting and quite frightening comment on one of the images of the Shorland SB300 in Defence of the Realm’s galleries.

I would like to thank Michael for this informative comment and share it with everyone.

On a similar matter I would like to once again thank everyone who has read, liked, subscribed, commented or contributed to Defence of the Realm since its inception. 2015 is Defence of the Realm’s first full year and what a year it has been. I have learned so much myself working on articles and keeping up to date with the latest news but more importantly I have made several friends along the way who now get repeatedly pestered by me on Twitter.

Season’s greetings to you all.

Tony Wilkins


NEWS: Bomb threat against British troops in Northern Ireland following arrest of Bloody Sunday soldier

British soldiers training in rural County Derry were the subject of a bomb alert on Wednesday after a local charity was contacted by an unknown individual to make the threat. The threat was taken very seriously by authorities as it included a codeword that confirmed that whomever made the call had a Republican background. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) responded with an air and ground search of the Drumsurn and Limavady areas but authorities have not confirmed whether they located an explosive device or not.

Up to 5,000 British soldiers are based at the Magilligan and Ballykinler bases in nearby County Down. In the last year the relationship between the British Army and the Republicans has been strained by several incidents. Earlier this year British troops were seen apparently patrolling the mostly Republican Drumsurn area angering the local community while last month a phonecall claiming to be from the IRA claimed responsibility for placing a bomb under a van being driven by an off-duty British soldier in north Belfast. The bomb was discovered after it broke loose from the vehicle. The “IRA” claimed they were targeting the soldier because he was in a relationship with a local woman and had made several attempts to kill him because of it.

With the arrest of a former British paratrooper by police investigating the events of Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in January 1972 tensions in Northern Ireland are at an all-time high since the ceasefire. The 66-year old former soldier, who has now been released on bail, is being questioned over the deaths of William Nash, Michael McDaid and John Young. He was arrested in County Antrim on Tuesday morning and held in Belfast.