A Rather Large Aircraft Carrier

News from Cyprus.

Commenting on ISIS and the use of RAF Akrotiri

not object to the use of the British Bases for any military operation against a terrorist organisation like this one which is the worst kind that we have ever met

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[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://cyprus-mail.com/2014/08/20/foreign-minister-concerned-over-islamic-state-threat-for-the-wider-region/”]

 

Anyway, a video from a few years ago provides a useful backgrounder

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Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 20, 2014 6:27 pm

I don’t know the terms of our uses of the SBAs, and acknowledge there’s no point in pissing people off unnecessarily, but the word “Sovereign” might lead to me thinking we don’t need his permission.

S O
S O
August 20, 2014 9:24 pm

I’m curious about how one could see a link between IS/ISIS and a base on Cyprus.

The first choice for basinc an aerial intervention against IS/ISIS would no doubt be Turkey, after all.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/nato-s-eastern-anchor-24-nato-bases-in-turkey/23205

Waylander
Waylander
August 20, 2014 10:15 pm

@S O

Probably because the RAF have deployed C-130s, Tornado GR4s, Voyagers, Chinooks & possibly Air Seeker to Cyprus for the air drops over Mt Sinjar and reconnaissance flights.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 20, 2014 10:38 pm

“Probably because the RAF have deployed C-130s, Tornado GR4s, Voyagers, Chinooks & possibly Air Seeker to Cyprus for the air drops over Mt Sinjar and reconnaissance flights”

Quite possibly because that nice Mr Erdogan who’s just managed to change the Turkish constitution so he can be an Islamic president, or possibly his generals, may not be that thrilled about supporting the Kurds….

There’s a reason the US are using carrier borne F18s you know.

S O
S O
August 21, 2014 12:55 am

Yezidi and Sunni Arabs aren’t Kurds.

Observer
Observer
August 21, 2014 1:50 am

SO, it’s called permission. They don’t need to ask for Turkey’s permission to base aircraft on their soil if they used their own bases.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazidi

Not all Kurds are Yezidi and not all Yezidi are Kurds, but there is a specific group that are Kurdish Yezidi and these are the people targeted for aid.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 21, 2014 2:29 am

S O,

Notwithstanding Observer’s comments, it shouldn’t matter. If someone is being crapped on by IS, that’s good enough for me. Those bastards are serious cunts.

Haven’t felt this much exercised and revved up since the Rwandan genocide. Not even Srebrenica was as bad as that.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 21, 2014 5:08 am

SO, I seem to remember that NATO is a defence allianceand the ISIS invasion of it has been so much by stealth that I haven’t seen it? If you recognise a quote, you are right.

More generally, the last time Turkey was asked, they said no. The US is probably keen to wait for them to ask – or have a little ground war on their own, when the Syria-N. Iraq combo grows to a more serious threat…speaking of that, the reason why the Turkish stand on a Kurdish state/statelet has been changing in the last two months!
– as long as it won’t include any areas of Turkey
– two months ago I listed some levers they are counting on in the long run (can’t remember the thread anymore, to quote)

Martin
Editor
August 21, 2014 5:43 am

This is a good argument in favour of aircraft carriers.

while we legally don’t have to get permission I cannot imagine the UK government engaging in operations from Akritoni without Local permission which in effect gives Cyprus and by extension Moscow a veto on use of the base.

I am not sure how much the base costs to run. If its £70 million a year I would dump it and use the money to fund a second aircraft carrier in operation.

Closing tha Army base on Cyprus would free up funds and personel to station in Eastern Europe where they could be far more useful given Moscows stance.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 21, 2014 6:16 am

Martin, over-egging it slightly?

While it is true that Cyprus only stays afloat with Russian finance (if not directly, oiling its financial services industry), the fact that for the ops over Libya only surveillance rather than strike missions were flown from SBA had more toi do with range and plentiful, better alternatives than with gvmnt consent. The fact that they have now come out with a statement has more toi do with maintaining that illusion than anything else.
– how do you fly an OTH reserve mech. Bn a thousand miles from a carrier, at a short notice?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 21, 2014 8:45 am

Martin,

The Middle East has been an enduring focus of interest to the UK for decades, and in my opinion will continue to be for years to come.

How many spastic nellies would it take to hold in excess of 300,000 tonnes of stores, and be able to host 3,000 Brits, and at surge capacity 7 squadrons of jets, from Typhoon to wide bodies, a small Ro-Ro facility, berthing, while remaining unsinkable?

Topman
Topman
August 21, 2014 8:45 am

‘ I cannot imagine the UK government engaging in operations from Akritoni without Local permission’

Why is it difficult to imagine?

monkey
monkey
August 21, 2014 8:52 am

Article from the FT on the run up to the first freely elected President of Turkey , which he won partly due to Kurdish voters in Turkey. They see him as the best hope they have to end the violence . After 40,000 dead and a terror campaign waged by the Jitem now ended and a huge investment in their region they are swinging towards being Kurdish Turks .The PKK have declared they want peace talks.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7f24c8ee-0370-11e4-817f-00144feab7de.html#axzz3B0tovZxS
Given that Erdogan is still establishing himself in his new role, a strong international call to aid the victims of ISIL would give him the mandate he needs to overcome his political detractors , perhaps the EU being a bit more open to membership? Before everyone rants about Turkeys human rights abuses it fades into the past compared to ISIL’s present handywork , recent history should if nothing else teaches us it takes a strong hand and a stronger stomach to rule in this region if some semblance of order is to be maintained and with it regional stability and prosperity.
Turkey is on the doorstep of this with a huge well armed Army and large air force to boot. They could given the international support end this .

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 21, 2014 9:39 am

Dumping Akrotiri and the SBA is a non-starter – where would RAFAT go for practice camp? More seriously it is a great staging point and logs hub which we would have to be barking to discard.

That said, it can be subject to other limitations, which is why you need both carriers and well distributed forward ops hubs.

Mark
Mark
August 21, 2014 10:07 am

almost as close a link between this operation and carriers as saying its why we need strategic bomber aircraft.

wf
wf
August 21, 2014 10:17 am

@RT: unsinkable indeed, but also immovable. Given the proliferation of ballistic missiles, some with very low CEP, you have to wonder why we all worry about the technically very difficult anti-carrier ballistic attack, while those runways and taxiways look considerably more vulnerable…

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 21, 2014 10:21 am

“almost as close a link between this operation and carriers as saying its why we need strategic bomber aircraft.”

Except that so far all the iron is coming off Naval Tacair. No Bone or Buff on the ATO (yet).

Topman
Topman
August 21, 2014 10:23 am

As is the want on here, perhaps we should think of ways of defending it rather than not use it ?

Mark
Mark
August 21, 2014 10:23 am

According to USAF sources, f15, reapers and b1s all involved

Nice pic topman

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 21, 2014 10:27 am

Agreed, ISIL will not be admitted to the EU and given passport-free travel as a bonus:
“perhaps the EU being a bit more open to membership? Before everyone rants about Turkeys human rights abuses it fades into the past compared to ISIL’s present handywork”

While we ponder the geopolitics, it would be worthwhile to remember what is happening the the middle class and the educated in Turkey every time they try to voice something about following what is known as the (western) democratic model and its basic rules.

Bulgaria is making brave attempts to combat their mafia-infiltrated power structures. Italy took decades to achieve some sort of supremacy of the state (i.e. those elected actually rule).
– the minimum standards for EU entry should be raised; not lowered
– besides the point, but geopolitics should not be a bribery business (v short lasting results gained that way)

Topman
Topman
August 21, 2014 10:27 am

I wouldn’t be surprised if they all were involved, not much difference distance between AU and the carriers in the gulf. I would imagine it’s been run through the CAOC there anyway.

Mark
Mark
August 21, 2014 10:32 am

http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20140819/NEWS08/308190052/U-S-military-stops-identifying-planes-involved-Iraq-airstrikes

I couldn’t see how you could run this operation without significant land based air assets.

wf
wf
August 21, 2014 10:33 am

@Topman: indeed. Sadly, I see no desire for the RA to buy THAAD, PAC3 or even Aster. Presumably, all these requirements are to be filled by leeching off Uncle Sam, as per usual :-(

Mark
Mark
August 21, 2014 10:37 am

wf

Is that not why we bought type 45 and should give it abmd and why one was deployed with the typhoons, awac and ground based radar to Cyprus during the Syria crisis.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 21, 2014 10:42 am

From the AFT article

“When airstrikes against the Islamic State began Aug. 8, a Pentagon spokesman identified the aircraft involved as carrier-based F/A-18s. But when land-based aircraft joined the mission, U.S. Central Command identified them only generically, as fighters, bombers or drones.

If CENTCOM specifies which land-based aircraft are taking part in the mission, it would be possible to deduce where they are based, and host nations have asked not to publicize the fact that airstrikes against Iraq are being launched from their countries, the defense official said.

Such concerns are not unique to current operations in Iraq, the official said. CENTCOM cannot publicly acknowledge that it has certain forces in the region because doing so would upset domestic politics in those countries.”

QED. It only takes an Al-J newscrew filming cabs launching with full racks at the departure end of a runway to give the game away and cause in-country problems. You’d hope in this particular case, they were all on-board for bombing IS. Might even get the BBC to see sense……

monkey
monkey
August 21, 2014 10:53 am

@Topman
Again good PIC .I back in the 70’s used to walk in the Lake District and I remember still very clearly when walking on the ridge top that leads from High Street to Lake Haweswaters head looking south down valley and seeing a Vulcan below us at no hight at all above the valley floor , a beautiful sight from my view point. The people on the path at Haweswater head all ducked sharply when the Vulcan past over their heads it seemed with only feet to spare.

Mark
Mark
August 21, 2014 10:57 am

NaB

You would hope with the 10s of billions of dollars the likes of Saudi, UAE ect are spending on defence equipment they may like to help out by doing some of the bombing themselves.

Topman
Topman
August 21, 2014 11:05 am

@ Mark

‘type 45 and should give it abmd and why one was deployed’

Well when it turned up ;)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 21, 2014 11:05 am

Indeed – assuming that they’ve got a functional air to mud / FAC capability.

In fact, my view is that they’d be a lot better thought of all round if they did do the bombing – and sent ground forces to counter IS and stopped funding them in the first place.

Holding out little hope for that whatsoever, unless “the West” serously cranks up the pressure on them, which we have few levers to deploy.

None of which obviates the occasional limitations that HNS-dependent basing incurs. Which is why we need both land and sea-based air.

Martin
Editor
August 21, 2014 11:20 am

@ ACC

I agree about Libya but it would have been a very different story if we had taken action against Syria against Russia’s wishes. I am sure it would have caused us all sorts if issue if we had used Akrotoni.

@ RT

I agree about the Middle East and the importance of the airfield at Cyprus but if the Cypriates have a defacto veto over its use then how useful is it. Is it worth spending significant funds keeping it?

@ Topman

Have you met the British government? How many cries of Britain being an evil colonial power using Cyrpus for its war would it take to shut down the airfield. especially with BBC and Al Jazzera camera crews outside the front gate recording some anti war protest or the like.

I don’t doubt we would use the base for logistics and support functions but flying combat sorties without Cypurs’s permission seems a political non starter for any British government.

Topman
Topman
August 21, 2014 11:32 am

@ martin

Well as I work for the British Gov, I’d have to say yes to that question ;) Mmost people around the SBA (that I’ve seen) don’t really care about Aki. People protest outiside UK bases fairly often (ish) I’ve not known any of them stop operations. I’ve been involved in ops out of Aki and they publically announced their dislike, made no odds.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 21, 2014 11:34 am

Martin,

Well, the Cyppos don’t have a de facto veto over our use of it.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 21, 2014 12:00 pm

“How many cries of Britain being an evil colonial power using Cyrpus for its war would it take to shut down the airfield. especially with BBC and Al Jazzera camera crews outside the front gate recording some anti war protest or the like. ”

The (current) Cypriot government can (as Topman and RT suggest) be f8cked off fairly sharpish by reminding them of the meaning of the word “Sovereign” and the terms of the agreement. That it’s an EU member makes it more stable than some other bases where the local populace (and associated politics) may be somewhat less relaxed and therefore risks of restriction of use much higher.

Challenger
Challenger
August 21, 2014 12:01 pm

With the SBA’s showing their worth time and time again does anyone think their are any other bases dotted around the globe that we should have held on-to?

For instance we had an air-base or two in Oman up until 1976-77, albeit only there post 1971 to support the locals dealing with a rebellion. Hindsight is a marvelous thing, but had we kept one operating it would have come in handy over the years.

Topman
Topman
August 21, 2014 12:11 pm

Oman is perhaps a little far south, to the areas that we have been involved in. We get on well with them so control isn’t so much of an issue. We’ve operated out of several bases across the ME over the past 20+ years continuosly, I don’t think not having sovereignity over some bases are not too much of drama.

wf
wf
August 21, 2014 12:27 pm

@Mark: no, the Type 45 was created to defend the RN. Cannot see the point of the RN being 5 miles offshore and stationary in order to defend an airfield. That’s what land based SAM’s are for, and as a bonus, they don’t require a ship and crew to work.

Perhaps you are assuming the T45 is going to do the post-boost intercept job some US cruisers and destroyers do with SM3?

Topman
Topman
August 21, 2014 12:31 pm

Even if the item they are helping to defend is stationary there is no requirement for the ship to stay still. Yes other assets can do it but if it’s there and we can use it, why not?

Kent
Kent
August 21, 2014 12:43 pm

Maybe someone should remind the Cypriots that they could be speaking German about now…

Rocket Banana
August 21, 2014 12:50 pm

“…end an airfield. That’s what land based SAM’s are for”

What land-based SAMs?

We have the dinky ranged Rapier.

What is needed is SAMP/T – that thing we failed to buy when we decided that somehow it was better to defend the floating airstrip with Aster but immobile land-based airstrips weren’t worth defending against ballistic missiles.

Observer
Observer
August 21, 2014 12:53 pm

Kent, think it was just a hypothetical, don’t think most Cypriots are actually that rabid about getting HMG off the island.

Simon, range isn’t a problem if your target is coming towards you. :)

Rocket Banana
August 21, 2014 12:56 pm

Observer,

At Mach 6 ?!?!?! :-)

wf
wf
August 21, 2014 12:57 pm

@Topman: it can indeed do the job, it’s more a matter of whether it’s sensible (buying a land based battery is a lot cheaper) and secondly, as discussed on a earlier FI thread by me, how this fixes the ship to a very small and predictable area. The Iranian’s and Russians have subs, and IS will have potential candidates for paradise with speedboats.

Chris
Chris
August 21, 2014 1:01 pm
El Sid
El Sid
August 21, 2014 1:03 pm


Total cost of Cyprus operations was £215m in 2011/12, with 2,700 personnel but that was inflated by having Ellamy as well as the Afghan supply chain going through there. From memory “peacetime” costs are more like half that for the airbase.

Things you can’t do from an aircraft carrier – operate Sentinel, U-2, Voyager, C-17, MPA, E-3, Global Hawk/Triton. Cyprus is in a great place, given that we will always have an interest in Suez, and likely in the Levant and the Bosphorus – Cyprus allows us to cover all three with tacair. Perhaps more important is its role as an ELINT station, but people don’t like to talk about that.

It’s also useful in keeping the peace, as Egypt/Syria etc know that although it’s potentially a huge asset that can be used to support Israel, they can’t take it out without bringing a world of pain upon themselves. There was a small example of that when the Turks invaded, they stopped at the boundary of the SBA rather than attack UK sovereign territory.

Topman
Topman
August 21, 2014 1:08 pm

Well if it can’t do the job then it won’t be used. But as always it will be looked at on a case by case basis.

Observer
Observer
August 21, 2014 1:19 pm

Simon, that is what, 2km per second? Lots of time. :)

Love the old Bloodhounds, think it was one of the longest serving ramjet missiles. Pity there was a limit to how much they could be upgraded.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 21, 2014 2:03 pm

RE “I don’t think not having sovereignity over some bases are not too much of drama.”
– the Canadians, who were reaching out with a helping hand to contribute to the stability of the broader ME Region were shut out of a critical staging post in the Gulf. Just because on the commercial side they did not yield to some request for more slots for the flag carrier wanting to expand in key N. American cities

I thought I would lead in with a heh-heh, but actually that kind of thing is far from funny

topman
topman
August 21, 2014 2:13 pm

i was refering to the uk over the past couple of decades.

a
a
August 21, 2014 2:55 pm

“You would hope with the 10s of billions of dollars the likes of Saudi, UAE ect are spending on defence equipment they may like to help out by doing some of the bombing themselves.”

ROFL. As the Pakistani government used to say about the Taliban, “you have to understand that these are our chaps over there. These are our boys.”

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 21, 2014 3:20 pm

a,

I do not pretend to understand Middle East politics, but as far as I can work out, Saudi / Qatari / UAE etc “defence” spending on western kit is a fig leaf to protect themselves against Iran (which they would much prefer the USA to do anyway), they are more interested in internal control technologies to keep their populations in check, and at the bottom line, buying expensive weapons and selling basing rights are merely the grease that keeps the development deals going. They are not much fussed about what goes on in Syria.

a
a
August 21, 2014 3:28 pm

RT: this is also true. They’d rather see a Sunni government (of any kind) than a Shia government friendly to Iran there, but other than that…

It’s not quite a full on cold war one-side-or-the-other setup, but there’s definitely a tendency for most of the Middle East to be either lining up with Saudi/Qatar/Muslim Brotherhood/UAE/Turkey/Egypt, or Syria/Hezbollah/Hamas/Iran.

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 21, 2014 6:12 pm

I read an article on Saudi appointments in defence/security & such like, a few weeks ago. It said that there was a mild Saudi “Spring” with moderates/reformers being appointed. Then the Saudis panicked about the advance & extremism of IS/ISIS & are now appointing hardliners to the security/defence positions, to keep the Kingdom secure. I would guess that Saudi initially armed/funded IS/ISIS to defeat Assad far away, but was horrified by their methods & even more horrified their activities in Iraq, were bringing them close to the Saudi border.

S O
S O
August 21, 2014 6:31 pm

“More generally, the last time Turkey was asked, they said no. ”

The last time they were asked about supporting a war of aggression that was a 100% violation of the Charter of the United Nations and a 100% violation of the North Atlantic Treaty and 100% predictable to lead to an empowerment of the Northern Iraqi Kurdish quasi state.

That’s hardly relevant now.
In fact, they ASKED for NATO forces to come to Turkey recently due to events in Syria (IIRC a German Patriot SAM unit is now in Turkey, for example).

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
August 21, 2014 6:56 pm

Surely the Cypriots are more interested in solving the Greece/Turkey issue, than what the UK is up to. If they reunify then it may become an issue but as long as we have the lease they can’t do anything, we just might want to keep them onside in the run up to renewals.

I am sure the French bought land based Aster.

Martin
Editor
August 22, 2014 4:32 am

@ EL SId

thanks for figures on running costs. while I don’t doubt the need for a base for platforms such as U2 Rivet Joint etc there are a dozen NATO bases in the region giving similar capabilities. so do we need to spend such money on a sovereign base when we can just rent a Turkish or Italian one when needed.

@ TD – The Maths problems keep getting harder and harder on the comment box. soon it’s going to ask me 7 x 8 which even our finance minister cannot answer.

Peter Elliott
August 22, 2014 7:13 am

“when we can just rent a Turkish or Italian one when needed.”

The point is we can’t. Sometimes we can rent one eventually. Sometimes they just keep saying no. But what we can almost never do is just rock up and use the base we want on day we choose.

wf
wf
August 22, 2014 7:13 am

: spat out the tea on that one :-)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 22, 2014 7:19 am

Yes “Sometimes we can rent one eventually. ”
But, might get kicked out when the holiday season starts as the host gvmnt/ local gvmnt can’t afford to bankrupt the communities relying for the airport feeding the traffic in (which might be the whole year’s worth of revenue intake)

El Sid
El Sid
August 22, 2014 8:06 am

@Engineer Tom
You don’t understand what “sovereign” means – there is no lease to renew, it belongs to us in perpetuity. OK, the same was true of Hong Kong island – but we handed it over because the lease was up on the New Territories that it needed to support itself. So Cyprus could get arsey and turn it into Berlin, but right now that seems unlikely.


As has been noted above, NATO bases aren’t always available. Plus it assumes that Turkey stays stable and pro-Western – compare Iran in the 1970s, or Egypt more recently. As Libya proved, even borrowing airbases from EU members isn’t straightforward – plus Italy is over a thousand miles from Cyprus, it’s not really practical for tactical aircraft. Its location matters – particularly for that primary role of ELINT. And then there’s the whole logistics hub thing, which has proved important for all our adventures east of Suez.

Observer
Observer
August 22, 2014 9:59 am

“7 x 8 which even our finance minister cannot answer.”

Oh dear, was it the finance minister? Thought it was the education minister. That incident happened so long ago, amazing anyone remembered.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
August 22, 2014 10:36 pm

@Observer – lots of Elephants hereabouts – long memories! :-)

GNB