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Friday, February 10, 2006 

Defence of the State

Apropos of this, we noted on a recent trip abroad that you're no longer required to doff shoes when going through security at Dublin Airport. This is frankly bizarre - either shoe-bombs are a risk or not, and there's been one such attempted attack already - but not surprising given the startling contrast of the stringency of passport control and laxness of customs you experience on arrival in Dublin. And let's just hope that a case of human-to-human transferable bird 'flu never steps off a plane.

Speaking of aircraft and security, one worrying deficiency in the Defence Forces is that the Air Corps has historically been equipped with obsolescent or even obsolete combat aircraft, a situation which continues today. Nearly uniquely among First-World nations, there is no modern fast-jet interceptor type in service with the Aer Corps today, nor forseeable plans to equip ourselves with even a token number of such fighter jets [1].

A surprising number of people assume that in case of emergency, we'd be able to call on the RAF just as we usually do. This simply isn't realistic, given that al'Qaeda has a clear preference for staging simultaneous attacks on multiple targets (as is well-known) and the British will need to be ready to defend their own airspace. And according to a recent issue of Phoenix Magazine, the Air Corps has been reduced to outfitting rotary-wing aircraft with door-mounted machineguns, which is a shocking state of affairs. The Naval Service is in the same boat (pun unintended) as regards the inability to mount even a token defence of our sovereign territory, being effectively little more than a coastguard [2].

Make no mistake about it, but jet fighters - even the simplest types - are enormously expensive, not just in capital cost but also in terms of flying hours due to excessive fuel consumption (about ten times more expensive than turboprops, we seem to remember). But in a world where the Republic is being sucked steadily deeper (link via UI) into a future European military alliance, there will undoubtedly come a time when our unwillingness to shoulder the cost of defending even our own territory becomes an issue with our EU partners.

[1] there was a proposal during the Eighties to purchase BAe Hawk jets, but the country's near-bankruptcy interrupted a Haughey-originated Defence Forces re-equipment plan.
[2] and an understrength coastguard at that. The Naval Service itself stated during the '80s that at least thirteen ships were needed, even just for fishery patrol duties.

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)

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