RAF Incursion into Irish Airspace – Update

The RAF at Valley have acknowledged the concerns expressed by the Celtic League about alleged incursion by military aircraft into Irish Airspace and have promised a response ‘early next week’.

The League had written to query the operation of military training aircraft from the RAF base over the South Central Irish sea in which the aircraft appear to enter both Irish Airspace and Irish Controlled Airspace.

The operation of military aircraft in the Airspace of another State is strictly regulated by the Paris Convention of 1919. Although other treaties such as the Chicago Convention (1947) which mainly addresses civil aviation matters have also touched on the issue. The basic principles of a century ago government such interactions still apply. Put simply these say:

“each nation has absolute sovereignty over the airspace overlying its territories and waters.”

The Irish government is sensitive about these issues as the Defence Forces have no effective counter for incursions by Foreign Aircraft without prior agreement into their airspace. In the past the Department of Foreign Affairs has pointedly refused to comment when for example Russian Aircraft probing UK Defences have entered Irish controlled Airspace North and West of Ireland. The most recent such occurrence was in March 2020.

RAF Valley the main training base for the RAF is sited on Anglesey. The BAE Hawk trainers which operate from it are armed and weapons ordnance capable. Training aircraft from this base operate extensively in UK Airspace over the Irish sea, Wales, Scotland and the North of England. The MOD also has an arrangement with the Isle of Man government. The IOM being a Crown Dependency the UK is ‘responsible for its Defence. The IOM government says that such overflights are covered by this.

It will be interesting to learn if uncontrolled incursions (by RAF military jets) on a regular basis are occurring into Irish airspace and indeed if these are with the tacit approval of the Irish government.

Link:

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1400896273583259&set=gm.10158840483708913

Image: Map showing Irish Airspace Dublin and Irish Sea) and control parameters – Inset: RAF Hawk jet trainer.

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (13th March 2021)

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