https://modmedia.blog.gov.uk/2017/02/08/defence-in-the-media-wednesday-8-february-2017/

Defence in the media: Wednesday 8 February 2017

The launch of RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft to intercept and escort a civilian airliner to Stansted Airport is widely covered in today’s papers, as is the appeal against his conviction for murder of Royal Marines Sergeant Alexander Blackman. And following the appearance of Minister for the Armed Forces Mike Penning at the House of Commons Defence Select Committee yesterday, a number of papers report concern over the fate of former interpreters in Afghanistan.

Quick Reaction Alert

News that RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby to intercept a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Lahore is covered in The Telegraph, The Times, The Sun, The MirrorThe Guardian, Daily Express, Daily Star, The Independent, The Herald and The Scotsman with the Express article noting that QRA’s were launched on 12 occasions in 2015 – eight in response to Russian military aircraft and four to investigate other planes.

Sergeant Blackman

The first day of Sergeant Alexander Blackman’s appeal against his 2013 murder conviction is widely covered with many papers reporting comments from Jonathan Goldberg QC, Blackman’s barrister, that he was a ‘John Wayne character’ and that he had passed his ‘breaking point’ after months of intense combat. The TelegraphThe Times, The Sun, Daily MailThe Guardian, The Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star report that the panel of five judges heard that the ‘ruthless and cunning Taliban’ were attacking the Marines on an almost daily basis and that Blackman was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killing. If the judges agree that he was suffering from mental illness they may reduce his original murder sentence to manslaughter.

Afghan Interpreters

 The Telegraph, The Times and Daily Mail report on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee inquiry into Afghan interpreters and carry quotes from former interpreter Rafi Hottak, former British Defence Attache Simon Diggins as well as Minister for the Armed Forces Mike Penning. All three articles criticise the Government’s handling of the issue and reference comments made by Mike Penning that the UK may send more troops to Afghanistan.

 An MOD spokesperson said:

 There has been no request for an increase of NATO personnel in Afghanistan. Any request for extra resources and personnel would of course be considered.

Image of the day

Royal Air Force Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert aircraft launched from RAF Coningsby yesterday. File picture.
Royal Air Force Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert aircraft launched from RAF Coningsby yesterday. File picture.

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