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MoD 'looking into' reports British soldier went to fight IS

A serving British soldier is believed to have travelled to the Middle East to fight against Islamic State.

The man, understood to be 19, reportedly left his base after telling his family he was joining the Kurdish peshmerga in their battle against the extremist group because "these guys need our help".

He told relatives that he was leaving two days ago and that he is intending to spend a year in the region, according to Sky News.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We are aware of these reports and are looking into them."

UK to send 1,000 troops and Typhoon jets to Baltic states

The UK is to send up to 1,000 troops to a high readiness force and deploy four RAF Typhoon jets for air policing in the Baltic States to boost NATO’s collective security, the Defence Secretary has announced.

RAF Eurofighter Typhoon Credit: Geoffrey Lee/RAF/MoD Crown copyright/PA Wire

Michael Fallon says the UK will be the lead nation in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2017 and then on rotation thereafter. This will see the UK contributing manpower to two regional headquarters in Poland and Romania and to force integration units in the three Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

The UK will also send four RAF Typhoon jets to support the NATO Baltic Air policing mission again in 2015.

NATO’s credibility in the face of the security challenges we face depends on everyone playing their part to implement the decisions taken at Wales last year.

The Readiness Action Plan demonstrates the Alliance’s commitment to reinforce our collective defence but strong words must be backed up with firm action. That is why I am delighted to announce that the UK will lead the VJTF in 2017 and contribute to the Baltic Air Policing mission again in order to put the Plan into practice.

– Michael Fallon, Defence Secretary

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RAF Typhoons 'escort' Russian bomber through UK airspace

A Russian Bear aircraft photographed from an intercepting RAF quick reaction Typhoon as it approached UK airspace. Credit: Sgt Fenwick/RAF/MoD Crown Copy/PA

RAF Typhoons intercepted a Russian Bear bomber as it approached UK airspace yesterday, the second flypast by aircraft from Vladimir Putin's air force in three days, the Ministry of Defence said.

The Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft, flying in international airspace was met by the fighters from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and "escorted ... through the UK flight information region", an Mod spokeswoman said.

A Russian Bear aircraft photographed from an intercepting RAF quick reaction Typhoon as it approached UK airspace. Credit: Sgt Fenwick/RAF/MoD Crown Copy/PA

The intervention follows a similar incident on Wednesday when two Bear bombers were tracked over the North Sea as Nato radars picked up a series of Russian formations engaged in "significant military manoeuvres" ranging from the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

Army medics arrive to help fight Ebola in Sierra Leone

British army medics have arrived in Sierra Leone to provide medical support in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.

Around 120 troops have been engaging in exercises to simulate the conditions they will face in Sierra Leone.

Around 750 British troops are expected to be deployed to Sierra Leone over the coming months as part of the country's response to the outbreak of the potentially deadly virus.

Army cuts decision 'taken without appropriate testing'

A decision to cut regular armed forces, while doubling reservists, was "taken without appropriate testing of feasibility" the National Audit Office have said.

Regular forces numbers will drop from 102,000 to 82,000. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The National Audit Office issued a statement saying that "military judgment played an important role in decisions."

They added: "Committing to moving towards an Army structure with fewer regular soldiers and an increased number of reserves within the planned timescale, should have been subject to more rigorous testing of feasibility."

Regular forces numbers will drop from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2018, with the report saying that without a "significant change in performance", the target may not be hit until 2025.

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£1.1bn armed forces savings won't affect 'equipment'

An annual shortfall in army savings will need to be found from cuts across the armed forces "other than equipment," the National Audit Office said today.

ITV News' Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship tweeted:

Submariner: 'If you can do your job everyone's happy'

The first three female submariners to serve in the Royal Navy said they were looking forward to getting to work with their male colleagues and expect to be treated professionally.

Read: First women officers join Royal Navy submarine fleet

Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray completed vigorous training that enables them operate the submarines, which they explained are "more complicated than a spaceship". Lieutenant Alexandra Olsson said:

"I am sure it will be a big success. We all do our job, and as long as you can do your job on board, everyone is quite happy for you to be there".

First women officers join Royal Navy submarine fleet

lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray, Royal Navy. Credit: MoD/Crown Copyright

Three officers have made maritime history by becoming the first female submariners to serve in the Royal Navy.

Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray have completed months of specialised training to earn their "Dolphins" - the clasp worn by qualified submariners - becoming the first women in the 110-year history of the Navy's Submarine Service.

For years women were unable to serve on submarines because of possible health risks but, after an independent review found that only pregnant women should not serve, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond lifted the ban in December 2011.

Following the arrival of woman officers, female ratings (non-commissioned personnel) will start training later this year with a view to serving on Vanguard submarines in 2015. Female personnel will also be able to serve on Astute-class submarines from around 2016.

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