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What would lead to RAF jets being scrambled?

Jets were scrambled to intercept a cargo plane south of London today as part of the RAF's Quick Reaction Alert system, which has been tasked with defending British airspace since 1940.

Two air bases share this duty: RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire generally covers the south, and RAF Leuchars in Fife looks after the north.

The procedure that would lead to Typhoon jets being scrambled is described here by Flight Lieutenant Noel Rees:

At the start of the scaled QRA response, civilian air traffic controllers might see on their screens an aircraft behaving erratically, not responding to their radio calls, or note that it’s transmitting a distress signal through its transponder.

Rather than scramble Typhoons at the first hint of something abnormal, a controller has the option to put them on a higher level of alert, ‘a call to cockpit’. In this scenario the pilot races to the hardened aircraft shelter and does everything short of starting his engines. From this posture a controller can monitor a situation knowing that a scramble can be conducted in moments.

– Flt Lt Rees

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Royal Air Force to fly surveillance drones over Syria

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the RAF will fly surveillance drones over Syria as part of their efforts to defeat Islamic State fighters in the area.

An RAF Reaper. Credit: MoD

The MoD said the missions will be for intelligence gathering.

UK Reaper remotely piloted aircraft systems and Rivet Joint aircraft will be authorised to fly surveillance missions over Syria.

The deployment will see the Royal Air Force aircraft gathering intelligence as the UK ramps up efforts to protect our national interests from the terrorist threat emanating the country.

Reapers are not authorised to use weapons in Syria and, alongside Rivet Joint, will provide vital situational awareness making it an invaluable asset to the coalition allies who are combating ISIL.

– Ministry of Defence

What could British air strikes in Iraq achieve?

Six fully-armed Tornado fighter jets stand primed and ready for action against Islamic State militants in Iraq this evening.

Yet the foe they seek to destroy has few bases and the challenge for RAF pilots could be finding something to hit, while avoiding civilian casualties.

ITV News' International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar reports:

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South Wales to witness show of 'Nato airpower'

South Wales residents will be treated to a display of "Nato airpower" this morning when a range military planes join the RAF Red Arrows in a flypast.

Aircraft from the US, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal and the Netherlands will feature along side the aerobatic display team.

RAF graphic showing the formation of the flypast Credit: RAF

Anyone wishing to see the flypast should be in Cardiff Bay for 8.30am, or the Spytty Park, Beechwood and Lliswerry areas of Newport for 8.45am. The jets will then continue to the Celtic Manor Resort for around 9am.

Flypast to showcase 'Nato’s formidable airpower'

The Royal Air Force has tweeted this graphic showing the aircraft that will take part in a flypast over the Nato summit in Wales at 9am on Friday.

The RAF Red Arrows will fly alongside aircraft from the US, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal and the Netherlands.

RAF jets in Cyprus for possible Iraq surveillance work

RAF Tornado jets have landed in Cyprus overnight where they are on standby for possible surveillance missions over northern Iraq.

An RAF Tornado jet lands in Cyprus Credit: ITV News

Four RAF Chinooks are also due to arrive at the British airbase on the island later today, although it is not clear what their role in Iraq would be.

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