Airspace incursion and the Air Corps

 

Sir, – On Saturday morning, two Russian military aircraft entered Irish airspace, and as the Air Corps does not possess the capability to intercept jet aircraft, the UK’s Royal Air Force scrambled fighter jets on two separate occasions to escort these Russian aircraft away from our airspace (“Military aircraft breach Irish airspace during Russian interception”, News, March 9th). Two weeks ago, at the Slándáil National Security Summit in Dublin, an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs wished to state “on the record” that “no formal agreement exists” between Ireland and the United Kingdom regarding airspace defence.

Considering these incursions into Irish airspace have become semi-regular in the last decade, and Russian TU-95 strategic bombers are sometimes equipped with nuclear weapons – which raises the possibility of a catastrophic accident above our heads – surely it is time this country had a mature discussion around the acquisition of the necessary jet aircraft required so that the Air Corps can protect our own airspace, just as other small western European countries are able to do.

The alternative is to continue with our current policy of pretending that it is not a problem, and relying on a combination of self-interest and benevolence of a United Kingdom no longer in the EU. – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN SHINE,

Kilkenny.