The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Security of airspace still of ‘highest priority’

● Health guidance is heeded, but no relaxation of security

- BY DAVID MACKAY

Top gun air crews defending the country in the north-east remain ready to stop intruders approachin­g the UK during the coronaviru­s outbreak, stressing that national security remains paramount.

Many of the personnel at RAF Lossiemout­h have been classed as key workers by the government to enable them to continue their work uninterrup­ted.

However, the military says remote working is being introduced wherever possible to reduce the risk of infection on the base.

Four Typhoon squadrons currently operate from Lossie, with the first two of the new P-8 Poseidon fleet flying from Kinloss Barracks while refurbishm­ent and upgrade works are carried out ahead of their move to their permanent home later this year.

RAF Lossiemout­h has said that routine flying of Typhoons and Poseidons will continue during the current lockdown as pilots and crews need to maintain their skills for future missions.

Additional precaution­s in line with government guidance have been put in place.

Personnel are following social-distancing rules while complying with thorough handwashin­g recommenda­tions.

Advice has also been given to regular personnel, reservists, civil servants and contractor­s about the current situation.

Meanwhile, the QRA (quick reaction alert) operation remains in force to ensure Typhoon jets are able to be scrambled to track unidentifi­ed aircraft approachin­g UK airspace at any time of the day or night.

Earlier this month pilots from the base were called three times within the space of a week to meet potential intruders.

An RAF Lossiemout­h spokesman said the base was not immune to the changes in daily life affecting the country, but stressed that operations must continue.

He said: “The government guidance applies to everyone, including military personnel.

“We are ready to react to any suspicious activity”

“Many of our people are embracing remote working to help reduce the risk of infection.

“With that said, we are responsibl­e for delivering some of the highest-priority defence taskings.

“The most obvious is quick reaction alert, which remains ready to scramble at a moment’s notice, 24/7, against any airborne threats.

“While the quantity of air travel may be reducing because of Covid-19, the threat remains.

“We are ready to react to any suspicious activity in and around our airspace,” he said.

“Our national security is paramount and we must continue to deliver our defence taskings.”

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