RAF LOSSIEMOUTH TYPHOONS are expected to fly to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus today after an emphatic House of Commons vote in favour of military action in Syria last night.
The historic 10-hour debate ended at around 10.30pm when 397 MPs voted in favour of the UK joining France, Russia and the United States in bombing operations against Daesh ground forces.
A government majority in the vote of 174 was achieved after Prime Minister David Cameron received the support of over 50 Labour MPs – and came despite a move by the SNP to oppose the plan.
Moray MP and the SNP leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, insisted last night that the vote saw Scotland “dragged into a war with no exit strategy”. Following the vote Mr Robertson said: “We are all committed to destroying Daesh – it is about how best we do that.
“David Cameron has neither answered the questions about where the 70,000 ground forces are coming from, or given an insight into any plan on how to stabilise and rebuild the region.
“The UK Government is going to have a huge problem with legitimacy and mandate for this operation in Syria from the people of Scotland. Quite simply the case for bombing Syria has not been made.’’
During Wednesday’s debate, the Moray MP made it clear that no matter the outcome his thoughts would be with RAF crews and families based in his constituency.
He said: “It is important, however, that a message goes out to our armed forces that, regardless of the differences in this place, we wish for their safety and we appreciate their professionalism.
“This is particularly relevant for me, as it would appear that most aircraft deployed to the region will be from RAF Lossiemouth in my constituency.”
RAF Lossiemouth preparesMoray aircraft likely to fly out today
Last night a spokesman at the Moray airbase insisted it was business as usual, with both their Typhoon and Tornado crews maintaining “normal pilot schedules” throughout the day.
However, earlier an MoD spokesman confirmed that RAF Lossiemouth was taking the lead in the UK response after the Commons vote.
After noting additional activity by Typhoon’s based at RAF Coningsby, a local newspaper reported an MoD spokesman as saying: “Personnel from RAF Coningsby will be involved, however, the lead is coming from RAF Lossiemouth. But air crew, engineers and ground crew from Coningsby will be called upon if necessary.”
Six Typhoons from Lossiemouth are expected to be deployed to Cyprus, along with an additional two Tornado bombers joining those already in the region carrying out operations over Iraq.
During Wednesday’s debate government ministers made much of the highly accurate ‘Brimstone’ missile systems – a system fitted to Tornado aircraft but not yet fully deployed on Typhoons, although Lossiemouth-based squadrons did successfully test the use of these missiles on their aircraft earlier this year.
It is not yet known what role the Typhoons will play in operations against Daesh, with an MoD spokesman saying that decisions on which aircraft to use would be about the “best use of assets”.
Wearing my hat as a community councillor in Lossiemouth, I received a telephone call yesterday from a national newspaper seeking my view on the mood of the local community towards the possible deployment of Typhoon’s in military action over Syria.
It was not a reply I had to think about. Regardless of feelings over the rights or wrongs of the UK Government decision – and there is certainly very strong opposition to military action of any kind – any airmen and women departing from our local community today will know they have the absolute support and best wishes of the entire community.
For over 75 years this community has lived side-by-side with military aircraft constantly over our heads. During most of that period it has been the RAF – the aircraft have changed, but the bond has always remained the same. It was never more strongly demonstrated when the base was threatened with closure five years ago, or on that sad day two years ago when three of our airman died in tragic circumstances over the Moray Firth.
We have seen RAF flyers and soldiers leave us for war in Iraq and Afghanistan – and almost held our breath until they returned home safely again.
This will be no different, should as is expected six of our aircraft and attending ground crews be on their way then our thoughts will be with them every step of their journey – our only desire that they return to Lossiemouth safely as soon as possible.