|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Rumours of warplanes
On Antiwar.com this morning I spotted a link to a report of increased US military aviation activity over Scotland in the past few days. The way the story is framed is confusing because it's attributed to USAF base watchers in England, whose website I found by Googling, but has a mail-to and website link to Scottish CND.
Neither website includes any such story.
(Don't get me started on the comments thread.)
So I decided to check it out. First, I rang a relative in the North-east of Scotland, who immediately confirmed that over the past few days there has been a very intense level of low-flying fighter aircraft activity, involving RAF and allied forces' aircraft. Low-flying fighter and fighter-bomber training goes on all the time over the Highlands. What's going on now is a big spike, but no more so than in the sort of major exercises that happen once or twice a year. I was told of other, less direct but usually reliable, indications that such an exercise is going on.
Then I rang Scottish CND. The person I spoke to confirmed that the report cited had indeed been circulated by them, and that it originated with a CND supporter in the Highlands. The story is that a large and unusual number of military transport planes - not combat aircraft - have been seen flying across the north of Scotland in the past few days. (This is quite separate from the large-scale low-altitude military aviation exercise that is definitely going on at the moment.)
[Update - large military transport aircraft have been seen flying low over a town near the east coast, presumably coming in to land at one of the two bases there, so it's likely that in fact they are all part of the same exercise.]
Scottish CND are still investigating, and are anxious not to jump the gun or cry wolf. Further hard information would be appreciated.
The speculation in the report that a major airstrike somewhere is being prepared is just that - speculation.
Here's some speculation of my own.
Earlier this summer, I've heard, a major military exercise took place on the west coast of the Highlands. It included troops who were mistaken for Russians, much to the alarm of some locals. Possibly they were soldiers from one of our new NATO allies to the east.
A small, mountainous, industrial country with a ragged coastline ... a country where ex-commie troops might be particularly useful ... I wonder where that could be?