As relations between the West and Russia steadily deteriorate, Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots have been given the go-ahead to shoot down Russian military jets when flying missions over Syria and Iraq, if they are endangered by them. The development comes with warnings that the UK and Russia are now "one step closer" to being at war.
RAF Tornado pilots have been instructed to avoid contact with Russian aircraft while engaged in missions for Operation Shader – the codename for the RAF's anti-Isis work in Iraq and Syria. But their aircraft have been armed with air-to-air missiles and the pilots have been given the green light to defend themselves if they are threatened by Russian pilots.
"The first thing a British pilot will do is to try to avoid a situation where an air-to-air attack is likely to occur — you avoid an area if there is Russian activity," an unidentified source from the UK's Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) told the Sunday Times. "But if a pilot is fired on or believes he is about to be fired on, he can defend himself. We now have a situation where a single pilot, irrespective of nationality, can have a strategic impact on future events."
The RAF Tornados aircraft will be armed with heat-seeking Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (Asraams, also called AIM-132 missiles). These weapons, which cost £200,000 each, can reach triple the speed of sound and have a longer range than other air-to-air missiles, allowing RAF pilots to shoot down enemy aircraft without being targeted themselves.
The Sunday Times' report quoted a defence source as saying: "Up till now RAF Tornados have been equipped with 500lb satellite-guided bombs — there has been no or little air-to-air threat. But in the last week the situation has changed. We need to respond accordingly."
"We need to protect our pilots but at the same time," said another source. "We're taking a step closer to war. It will only take one plane to be shot down in an air-to-air battle and the whole landscape will change."
Russia in Syria
The move comes after Russia's entry into the civil war in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government forces. The US has branded Russia's involvement as "fundamentally flawed", with the Kremlin facing accusations that it is ignoring IS fighters to go after al-Assad's opponents.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, an appraisal carried out by UK defence officials said: "It took six days for Russia to strike any Isis targets at all. Their air strikes have included moderate opposition groups who have been fighting to defend their areas from Isis. Among the targets hit were three field hospitals."
In the past 24 hours Russia's Defence Ministry said that it has continued its air strikes on IS positions in Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Raqqa. It reported that the attacks resulted in the "complete destruction" of "53 fortified areas and strong points with armament and military hardware", seven ammunition depots, four field camps of "terrorists", one command centre, and artillery and mortar batteries.
On 28 September, when speaking to the US state-run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Putin ruled out sending ground troops to Syria, saying it was "out of question".
Outraged Russian officials asked UK ministers "to provide an official explanation" of reports that RAF Tornados operating over Iraq have been fitted with heat-seeking missiles designed for arial combat.
The Russian ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, said he had "urgently requested explanations" of the reports from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
He said: "These reports are worrying, as they refer to senior cabinet members. We have urgently requested explanations from the Foreign and Commonwealth office.
"The very premise of a potential conflict of UK and Russian combat aircraft over Iraq is incomprehensible."
It emerged last night that RAF fighter pilots have been granted permission to shoot down Russian jets if they come under attack while completing missions over Iraq.
Pilots were given the shocking order as UK ministers wanted Russia is making the situation in the Middle East "much more dangerous".
RAF jets will be armed with advanced short range air-to-air missiles and British and Nato pilots have been told to fight for their lives if they are fired upon by Vladimir Putin’s air force.
Senior defence sources said it is likely British fighter jets will become embroiled in a deadly air battle with Russian aircraft sooner rather than later.
A source said: "We need to protect our pilots but at the same time we’re taking a step closer to war. It will only take one plane to be shot down in an air-to-air battle and the whole landscape will change."
RAF pilots have reportedly been told to avoid contact with Russian jets but have been warned to be prepared to fight back if fired upon.
Two weeks ago when the US broke off bilateral relations with Russia over the ongoing Syrian proxy war, we reported that as part of America's "next steps" would be a discussion on military options. As Reuters reported then, the "discussions were being held at "staff level," and have yet to produce any recommendations to President Barack Obama, who has resisted ordering military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's multi-sided civil war. "The president has asked all of the agencies to put forward options, some familiar, some new, that we are very actively reviewing," Blinken said. "When we are able to work through these in the days ahead we'll have an opportunity to come back and talk about them in detail."
Fast forward to today, when as Reuters once again reports, the time has come for the US to make a decision: on Friday President Barack Obama and his top foreign policy advisers are expected to meet to consider their military and other options in Syria as Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to pummel Aleppo and other targets.
The tensions here are well known: some of the more hawkish "top officials" told Reuters that the United States must act more forcefully in Syria or "risk losing what influence it still has over moderate rebels and its Arab, Kurdish and Turkish allies in the fight against Islamic State." Naturally, this means that one set of options includes direct U.S. military action such as air strikes on Syrian military bases, munitions depots or radar and anti-aircraft bases.
That is also the scenario which General Joseph Dunford warned may lead to war with Russia. Indeed, the quoted said one danger of such action is that Russian and Syrian forces are often co-mingled, "raising the possibility of a direct confrontation with Russia that Obama has been at pains to avoid." This is also known as the "world war" scenario.
Months of disquieting and needless escalation between the United States and Russia over Syria and the Asia-Pacific theater quickened feverishly to near outright hostility over the past 48 hours, and — considering semantics from both ends suggestive of antebellum blame-casting — it’s past time to pay attention.
Indeed, though a few analysts still dismissively liken the tensions to so much blustery rhetoric, a growing number contend obstinate U.S. posturing about Russian aggression hasn’t been taken so lightly by President Vladimir Putin and his rapidly amassing allies.
Additionally, it now seems the U.S. has backed its incessant finger-pointing with the subtle language necessary to undertake what could best, if ironically, be termed a ‘defensive first strike.’
While full-scale nuclear war might indeed be an outside possibility at this early date, the specter of full military engagement is quickly materializing on several fronts. To understand how we arrived so near this precipice, a series of events and statements over the previous month should be considered contextually with those of the last two days.
After officially accusing the Russian government on Friday of attempting to influence the presidential election by hacking into and leaking documents from the Democratic National Committee servers — which, despite fast efforts to save face, undoubtedly tarnished the reputations of party members and nominee Hillary Clinton — President Obama offered an alarming statement Tuesday giving that accusation sharp teeth.
“There are a range of responses that are available to the president and he will consider a response that is proportional,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest, quoted by Reuters, told media aboard Air Force One. “It is certainly possible that the president can choose response options that we never announce.”
Without unassailable proof the Russian government hacked the DNC, any putative ‘response’ by the U.S. — proportional or not, cyber-oriented or not — would inherently be an aggressive first strike. Given the dispute over definitive evidence tracing the hack to Russia, any follow-through could conceivably be considered an act of war and/or terrorism.
As such, an actual response of any nature has been posited unlikely — however, in consideration of last week’s belligerent remarks by U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, downplaying the potential for a response could be foolhardy.
“The strategic resolve of our nation, the United States, is being challenged and our alliances tested in ways that we haven’t faced in many, many decades,” Milley told attendees of an annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army.
“I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm … the United States military — despite all of our challenges, despite our [operational] tempo, despite everything we have been doing — we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.”
America 'plotting to allow 9,000 ISIS fighters to escape terror capital Mosul so they can attack Russian troops', Moscow outrageously claims
THOUSANDS of ISIS fighters are to be given safe passage out of Iraq to fight in Syria, Russian military leaders claim.
The jihadi army – and their families – will allegedly be let back in to Syria to battle president Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies.
The outrageous claims comes as Britain and the US face criticism for failing to stop Assad’s brutal bombing of civilians in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Nearly a thousand US and British troops have been sent to retake Mosul – the largest city under ISIS control.
The RAF and US Air Force are on standby to support any ground attack with major air strikes.
Again, hate so sound like a broken record, but why are we fighting in Syria and who authorized it???? Its a democratically elected government for gosh sakes. Why do we have any business over turning their government and bringing so much suffering and death in the process. They never did anything to us...or the Saudis. They never threatened anything except they didn't approve a pipeline through their country. That's their right.
And this administration is ready to take us to war to get Assad overthrown.
We have neither the need nor right from what I can tell.
Am I missing something here? If so, what?
Things are getting surreally real.
Exactly - we weren't invited to Syria, no one asked us to be there, we simply imposed ourselves there. Its insane
I would say the fuse has been lit, but I think it would be more correct to say the fuse has been clipped down to the quick (or to the TNT in this case). One spark & the whole thing goes....wow!
Scott, remember O's "hot mic" incident back in 2011 when he was speaking to Medvedev? He said something like, "after my re-election I'll have more flexibility."
Now here we are at the end of 2016 - 5 years have passed. What's your best guess on exactly what he meant when he said that? Would you take it as far as planning for world war? Things are just soooooo mishandled it seems intentional.
Thats a really good question...There is such a wide range of possibilities on that. One option could be that he was simply lying to them about some deal/arrangement and promising them something w/o following through...And of course it could be more nefarious - but I've thought about that too
I think nuclear war with Russia over Syria makes perfect sense. (Roll eyes)
I was trying to analyze why the insistence of the O administration to provoke so many enemies at the same time, and I can only conclude that because Congress won't pass a war declaration with us being the aggressors at this time unless we get attacked first, seems to be the only reasoning behind the madness. However, I am still missing the "why". Is it to stay in power, is it just as an escape option if Trump wins, is it to accelerate the Global agenda by destroying USA? Or is it profound demonical possession that is trying to destroy as many lives as possible before the prompt return of our Real Savior Jesus Christ?.
Thats a good question. You have to look up Zeb brzezinshi and his role in obama administration and his pathological hatred of russia. Thats a big role. Plus depending on what you read it could be to hide the coming economic collapse and/or it may be simply the oil pipelines thru syria. It could be the formation of BRICS and their role in destroying the petrodollar or a combination of the above
Or it could be depopulation or obamas hate for America or just taking out the principle stumbling block to globalization... most likely all the above 😂
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