Defence in the media

Defence in the Media: 6 November 2015

Today’s defence news continues to be dominated by coverage of the Russian plane disaster in Egypt, including comments made by the Defence Secretary on the potential implications for counter-ISIL airstrikes.


Coverage of the situation in Egypt continues to dominate both broadcast headlines and newspaper front pages. A main angle of reporting is the claim that the UK Government’s intelligence suggesting a terrorist attack is based on intercepted communications between militants in the Sinai - the Times and Telegraph lead on this line. There is broad coverage of the hope that British tourists stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh will begin flying home today, along with claims that security failures at the local airport could have led to a bomb being smuggled onboard the aircraft, including in the Sun’s splash. The Independent, Times and Daily Mail report alleged diplomatic tensions caused by different countries’ claims of what caused the crash.

Comments from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon have been carried across broadcast outlets this morning, and in the Sun and Daily Telegraph, in which he says that the case for taking military action in Syria would be bolstered if ISIL is found to be behind the Russian jet bombing. The Sun reports that while onboard HMS Ocean during a visit to Exercise Trident Juncture in Portugal, Mr Fallon said a bomb was “likely” to have brought down the plane, and includes the words which are running widely in broadcast bulletins this morning. He said:

(It is) morally indefensible that our streets should be protected by French, Australian and American aircraft, when we are not prepared to bite the bullet and get the Tornados dealing with these supply routes.

Most reports, including in the Daily Express and Daily Mirror, suggest that a small British military team has flown out to Egypt to help co-ordinate emergency evacuation plans. The Mirror’s reporting suggests that British military and intelligence teams are joining forces with their Russian counterparts in a top secret operation to track down the bombers, in what the paper says is believed to be the “largest East-West counter-terror coalition since 9/11”.


The Independent reports the Royal Navy is investigating claims from angry Devonshire fisherman that the German Navy has been snagging crab pots off the coast of Plymouth. The fishermen claim that the Die Bonn and Frankfurt Am Main supply ships, which are both 174 metres long, have caused thousands of pounds of damage by running through crab-catching equipment.

The Royal Navy’s statement is below:

The Royal Navy places significant importance on the coordination of the sea areas in the south-west, taking into account the requirements of all mariners including the fishing community. While no claim has yet been received, the Navy has a robust system in place to investigate any reported incidents in conjunction with the Marine Management Organisation.


The Guardian reports that MPs and peers from Parliament’s joint committee on human rights have written to the Defence Secretary to request access to the RAF's “drone base” at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.


The Daily Telegraph reports that chemical weapons experts have determined that ISIL used mustard gas during fighting in Syria in August, according to a report by an international watchdog seen by Reuters. The confidential October 29 report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a summary of which was allegedly shown to Reuters, concluded "with the utmost confidence that at least two people were exposed to sulphur mustard" in the town of Marea, north of Aleppo, on August 21. The article adds that the finding, which will be formally presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later this month, adds to a growing body of evidence that ISIL has obtained, and is using, chemical weapons in both Iraq and Syria.

Armed Forces personnel have recorded a series of famous First World War poems that will be played at seven London Underground stations on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day. They joined forces with two Transport for London (TfL) service veterans to record the poems that will be played at: Westminster, Covent Garden, Knightsbridge, Oval, Victoria, Waterloo and Charing Cross London Underground stations.

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