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Air Corps support during the troubles

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  • Air Corps support during the troubles

    I've read with interest about the aircraft used by the British Forces during their Operation Banner.

    I have noted during the 70s/80s the Air Corp rushed Cessna 172s equipped with Rocket pods & SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 with similar weapons load out with either machine guns, rockets or reconnaissance photographic pods.

    One would imagine this was because of the concerns domestically of the outbreak of all out actions with the PIRA on the border for the Defence Forces.

    One of my questions is where thses aircraft ever armed while supporting border operations?

    I know the the aircraft had radios fitted for communicating with Army units but how would the Army units in those times specifically the 70/80s have called in such Aid Support would it of have been over radios with grid references or by use coloured smoke grenades?

    Any information on use of IAC aircraft supporting Army units along the border or images I would love to see them. Finner and border barracks I know benefitted greatly from forwarded deployed Alouettes.

    These discussions are specifically about times past so not to effect current OPSEC of the modern day.

    Photo found on Google images.
    British officer: You're seven minutes late, Mr. Collins.
    Michael Collins: You've kept us waiting 700 years. You can have your seven minutes.

    [As the British flag comes down]

    Michael Collins: So that's what all the bother was about.

  • #2
    While I was there you only saw uk aircraft, and early drone use too for recce.
    only tricolour carrying aircraft on the border in the 90s was the A3.
    For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

    Comment


    • #3
      The 172s were the only armed 172s in the world and they had the 37mm rockets, which were generally regarded as useless and they had a gunsight which was basically a bit of perspex with a gun reticle etched on it. It was based on the type of system used on the L-19 in Vietnam,for target marking with white phosphorus rockets but the L-19 was infinitely better for that task than a 172. At least the Marchetti or Fouga gave you a choice of the 68mm SNEB rocket or the 7.62mm GPMG. It was all regarded as a joke. When the British Army had their helicopters fitted with armour and door guns and later,jammers against potential SA-7 missiles,ours had nothing at all and wouldn't have stood a chance against IRA or Loyalist weapons. There was a lot of talk and rumours circulating about the IRA threat to the AC aircraft, especially if the IRA chose to fire at ours, which was not beyond the bounds of possibility, but the fact that any such event would have huge political implications meant that it probably wouldn't happen,as even the dumbest IRA man understood that to fire on a Southern aircraft would bring a whole world of hurt on his head and have implications above his pay grade. It will be interesting,when some of the "players" are safely dead (and can't sue you), what will come out in the wash when historians get access to the Govt papers about Border operations.

      Comment


      • #4
        There was good reason our helis on the border had a massive tricolour painted on the side, while the folks in Keady were kept awake at night by guys test firing their Russian made heavy machine guns.
        For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

        Comment


        • #5


          Camera crew just happened to be filming when this happened...
          'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

          Comment


          • #6
            The Dushkas were the "show pony",in effect. It was the M60 and other 7.62 weapons that were as much a threat. Much easier to use and subsequently conceal. An Alouette wouldn't stand a chance,even against a rifle. A lot of the visual response to IRA terror was tokenism,planned or accidental and the real defence against them was Intelligence work by Gardai and DF and people keeping their eyes and ears open. When both legal armed military and police forces on both sides of the Border are operating in a milieu of highly ambiguous attitudes, from a public point of view, towards the IRA and Loyalist terror, it's always going to be an uphill battle and overt aviation assets have only a limited part to play. There was probably more achieved by discrete use of air assets,on both sides. We'll never know the full story,of course, until well down the road.

            Comment


            • #7
              What I will say for certain was that our comrades on the other side of the border were using drones in 1996. Even though it was not widely reported.
              Their use of helis by night was almost non existent.
              Worth reading "Charlie One" about the work of Sigs/int in the 80s and 90s.
              For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by GoneToTheCanner View Post
                The 172s were the only armed 172s in the world and they had the 37mm rockets, which were generally regarded as useless and they had a gunsight which was basically a bit of perspex with a gun reticle etched on it. It was based on the type of system used on the L-19 in Vietnam,for target marking with white phosphorus rockets but the L-19 was infinitely better for that task than a 172. At least the Marchetti or Fouga gave you a choice of the 68mm SNEB rocket or the 7.62mm GPMG. It was all regarded as a joke. When the British Army had their helicopters fitted with armour and door guns and later,jammers against potential SA-7 missiles,ours had nothing at all and wouldn't have stood a chance against IRA or Loyalist weapons. There was a lot of talk and rumours circulating about the IRA threat to the AC aircraft, especially if the IRA chose to fire at ours, which was not beyond the bounds of possibility, but the fact that any such event would have huge political implications meant that it probably wouldn't happen,as even the dumbest IRA man understood that to fire on a Southern aircraft would bring a whole world of hurt on his head and have implications above his pay grade. It will be interesting,when some of the "players" are safely dead (and can't sue you), what will come out in the wash when historians get access to the Govt papers about Border operations.
                37mm so similar warhead to modern M203 40mm grenade projectile.. very interesting to even contemplate arming the Cessna's but I suppose it gave a force multiplier effect along with other air assests.

                One of the lads who was heli crew out of Finner & Monaghan in 80s/90s said the Brits loved when they were up in the same border area as the Irish heli's pushed out so much heat any missile fired at the Brits would definitely have veered off and hit the Irish one instead :P
                British officer: You're seven minutes late, Mr. Collins.
                Michael Collins: You've kept us waiting 700 years. You can have your seven minutes.

                [As the British flag comes down]

                Michael Collins: So that's what all the bother was about.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by GoneToTheCanner View Post
                  The Dushkas were the "show pony",in effect. It was the M60 and other 7.62 weapons that were as much a threat. Much easier to use and subsequently conceal. An Alouette wouldn't stand a chance,even against a rifle. A lot of the visual response to IRA terror was tokenism,planned or accidental and the real defence against them was Intelligence work by Gardai and DF and people keeping their eyes and ears open. When both legal armed military and police forces on both sides of the Border are operating in a milieu of highly ambiguous attitudes, from a public point of view, towards the IRA and Loyalist terror, it's always going to be an uphill battle and overt aviation assets have only a limited part to play. There was probably more achieved by discrete use of air assets,on both sides. We'll never know the full story,of course, until well down the road.
                  Agreed; ground to air gunnery even at a fairly slow moving target is difficult...I'm sure there are Gunners on here who can testify to that.

                  The DShKs were more effectively employed by PIRA in a ground attack role.

                  Murder of Constable Michael Marshall at Belleeks in 1989 being a prime example.

                  They used it once too often though; they attacked the station sangar at RUC Coalisland with a DShK mounted on a tipper lorry in 1992.

                  Had a jolly old time peppering the unoccupied sangar...then got ambushed by the SAS at their dispersal point...four dead terrorists...four captured.

                  And yes intelligence won the day...which kind of explains Sinn Feins obsession with blackening any form of intelligence gathering with allegations of collusion.

                  Air assets will have played an important role in surveillance and gathering of intelligence, but on the UK side fixed wing aircraft were unarmed and troop carrying helis only armed with GPMGs.

                  I've often wondered if we were back in this scenario would the presence of a Predator drone lurking over South Armagh keep the armoured tipper lorries off the road.

                  Hopefully we'll never need to find out.
                  'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The 37s were rubbish, really. A modern grenade round is sophisticated by comparison. It was too small a warhead but was more useful as a target marker. Still, I wouldn't like to get a spray of them fired at me. As for the Alouettes,well, you couldn't fail to notice one around the place as the audio and thermal signature of one was like a steam locomotive. It probably had more deterrent effect that way.

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