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Old 9th Jan 2017, 16:09   #1 (permalink)
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UK small airfields defenceless against small aircraft says Judge.

Judge says small UK airfields are 'defenceless' against people traffickers as he jails Lithuanian pilot for smuggling in three illegal Albanian immigrants | Daily Mail Online

Good story here about small aircraft landing at Seething (appropriate name in these times).
Granted there may be more to the case than reported here but doesn't or cant the RAF track low flying aircraft coming into England from Europe? Historically we were a bit hit and miss but I would have thought in these days we could do it, shurely?
Is this embarrassing to the people who are responsible for our UK air defence system?

Last edited by Hangarshuffle; 9th Jan 2017 at 16:13. Reason: So seething that words failed me.
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 16:33   #2 (permalink)
 
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I've been to Seething - it was deserted and very rural.
Next they'll be suggesting we, oh I don't know, build houses on all these small, defenceless airfields to stop them being used by smugglers
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 16:45   #3 (permalink)
 
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I once had the job of driving around North Wales for the day trying to identify potential landing strips for small aircraft infiltration.

Let's just say I logged quite a few.
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 16:51   #4 (permalink)
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What sort of low level cover is available from Neat?

Oh, I forgot, we closed Neat
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 17:47   #5 (permalink)
 
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Neatishead was the CRC. The radar at Trimmingham is still in place and in use.
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 19:03   #6 (permalink)
 
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They could always bring back the ROC
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 19:25   #7 (permalink)
 
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During my many years at Eastern Radar (RAF Watton, Norfolk, for the uninitiated] we always kept an eye out for random light aircraft from the Continent. Our T82 radar would occasionally pick up contact that the ponderous 4 rpm T84/T85 at Neatishead wouldn't see, especially close in to the coast.
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 19:36   #8 (permalink)
 
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At least in the 1990s, the Immigration Service (as was, now UKBA) did have a policy of visiting farm strips and the like, maintaining a database of locations, tapping up locals, and asking them to keep a discreet eye out.
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 21:04   #9 (permalink)
 
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From the 1978 edition of Airfields of the Eighth:
Quote:
Kimbolton hit the headlines in November 1971 when an abortive attempt was made by a Syrian pilot, Rafiq Kalos El Jassen Ashour, to land four Indians and one Pakistani from a Piper Cherokee. On 28 November 1971, the local farmer, Mr. Raymond Convine, saw the aircraft standing on the airstrip. When he got close, he could see the pilot was masked whereupon he rammed the plane with his pick-up truck. When Ashour tried to escape, Mr. Convine went after him armed with a spanner, the masked pilot stopping several times during the chase to offer the farmer a 1000 bribe to forget the incident! When Ashour escaped with two men who had been waiting for the aircraft, Mr. Convine returned to the five illegal immigrants who were taken into custody.

A Terence Black was subsequently brought to trial in March 1973 and found guilty. At the time of the trial he was already serving an 18 month prison sentence in Glasgow, to which the Northampton Crown Court added three years for conspiring with others to evade the control of Commonwealth immigrants and two years for making arrangements to facilitate the entry of illegal immigrants into the UK. His brother Raymond, believed by the police to be the ringleader, had previously died in Paris in August 1972. Ashour escaped and was not brought to trial.

The incident sparked off an intensive check of all the disused wartime airfields in the East Anglia area and farmers and airfield owners were warned to be on the look out for aircraft landing in suspicious circumstances. Measures to combat the landing of illegal immigrants by plane still continue today (1978) and we were stopped by police during our visit to Framlingham airfield. The Directorate of Military Survey has also restricted the loan of wartime airfield maps...
One wonders whether such vigilance remains in place today...
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 22:19   #10 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
I once had the job of driving around North Wales for the day trying to identify potential landing strips for small aircraft infiltration.

Let's just say I logged quite a few.
I can quite believe it, on a couple of occasions while I was at Ty-Croes in the first half of the 90's, some form of surveillance operation was done from the T94 based there which involved unknown people coming on site and the Techies being barred from the ops cabin. I suspect it was something to do with the IRA and gun running, but we were told not to ask the scopies what it was all about.

The radar coverage of the UK coastline has never been really good since the Type 54 CHEL stations were shut down in the late 1950s and since then, the coverage towards France at low level has been non existent. The AD system from 1960 through to 1968 was aimed at dealing with reconnaissance threats to the V-Force (not attacks on as they would have been stand off or ballistic in nature). After that, Linesman which tried to interrogate the AD and high level ATC system (and failed), Followed by UKADGE, IUKADGE and UMCP which has just been replaced. Since 9/11 there has been a major improvement in low level coverage with the introduction of a number of military ATC radars into a networked feed into the CRC's known as AIRP. https://www.sell2wales.gov.wales/sea...x?ID=AUG150943

However having the intelligence is useless if there is no way to catch them in the act and they are really only interested in somebody who is not flying to a flight plan.
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Old 9th Jan 2017, 23:03   #11 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
...the local farmer, Mr. Raymond Convine, saw the aircraft standing on the airstrip. When he got close, he could see the pilot was masked whereupon he rammed the plane with his pick-up truck.


If, these days, farmers habitually rammed all light aircraft in which pilots wore balaclavas, there would be an a awful lot of squashed microlights.
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 07:13   #12 (permalink)
 
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And...??

>>>>>>>
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 07:34   #13 (permalink)
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It were difficult enough in the 60s getting a customs officer to a military airfield to meet a prenotified flight, especially when two arrived at the same time at adjacent airfields. Of course we never did that deliberately

I think at the time most of them were at Akroitiri
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 08:28   #14 (permalink)
 
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No doubt someone did a 'cost-risk' analysis at some point. Our 'defences' are still primarily poised to detect and intercept foreign high-level bombers coming to drop their load - not low-level light aircraft coming to drop foreigners!
Cost to counter that 'threat' would be huge I'd guess. Suppose some of the 'gucci' anti-ISIS budget could be diverted but you'd need to lever it from the agencies with shiny buildings in London to do that.
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 09:11   #15 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEagle View Post
From the 1978 edition of Airfields of the Eighth:


One wonders whether such vigilance remains in place today...
I doubt it, especially as the location of all former and current airfields and strips is available on the net.

Aerial Views Of UK Airports & Airfields
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 09:23   #16 (permalink)
 
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Wonder if it was 'tax free ciggies' they might try harder
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 10:10   #17 (permalink)
 
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Some years ago, I was holidaying in a cottage just off the end of the runway of a disused world war 2 airfield (Dale) in Pembrokeshire. During the night (it was a full moon) we heard an aircraft overhead, and the following morning had a visit from the police asking if we had seen or heard anything. They would not tell us what they suspected, though the word in the village was that it was a drugs drop. We never heard any more.
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 11:35   #18 (permalink)
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Flying over disused Greek airfields in Crete we saw lots of oil drums arrayed down the runway. In UK though there are so many WW2 airfields still with suitable runways that blocking them, and seeing they remained blocked, would be near impossible.
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 11:46   #19 (permalink)
 
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I guess most small harbours and river estuaries around our coasts are similarly defenceless.
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Old 10th Jan 2017, 12:54   #20 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pontius Navigator
In UK though there are so many WW2 airfields still with suitable runways that blocking them, and seeing they remained blocked, would be near impossible.
There is an awful lot less now than there was 20-25 years ago, let alone say back in the late 70's.

I think you'd be surprised at just how relatively few remain with any suitable runway.
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