Review of 2015 US Military Traffic Through Shannon

The government continues to claim Ireland is a neutral country, and that when it comes to the US military use of Shannon Airport there's nothing to see or worry about. None of the regular landings of Hercules C-130's or mid-air refuellers are involved in military operations they say, and there's not as much as a single gun or round of ammunition on any of them.

It defies logic, but it's what the government tries to make us believe, despite recorded evidence of weapons on some of the planes.

In addition to these supposedly "unarmed" military planes there are also constant landings of "civilian" planes each carrying hundreds of armed troops. Classifying these as non-military, as the government does, is unprincipled and misleading, and is in breach of international neutrality law.  

Shannonwatch keep records of all US military traffic that passes through Shannon Airport. In 2015 we recorded 367 troop carriers landing and departing from the airport, as well as 291 military (US Air Force or Navy) planes. That's a total of 658 planes linked to US military operations - in other words more than 12 US military flights a week through Shannon.

 

Military Planes

All foreign military planes that land in Shannon or anywhere else in Ireland must have permission from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to do so. Here's a sample of the landings of US military aircraft at Shannon for the month of December:

 

Call Sign

Registration

Landed

Aircraft Type

Registered Owner

SAM781

01-0040

03 December 2015

B73B

United States Air Force

CATBRD1

165151

03 December 2015

GLF4

United States Navy

CNV4649

165829

03 December 2015

B73B

United States Navy

CNV3721

165378

06 December 2015

C130

United States Navy

SAM865

99-0003

08 December 2015

B752

United States Air Force

SAM994

99-0004

08 December 2015

B752

United States Air Force

SAM781

01-0040

09 December 2015

B73B

United States Air Force

CNV3803

165160

11 December 2015

C130

United States Navy

LOBO 01

161530

11 December 2015

DCC9

United States Navy

CATBRD1

165151

15 December 2015

GLF4

United States Navy

SAM994

99-0004

16 December 2015

B752

United States Air Force

SPAR13

05-4613

16 December 2015

B737

United States Air Force

BOXER46

02-0201

17 December 2015

B73B

United States Air Force

SAM135

97-0401

18 December 2015

GLF5

United States Air Force

 

86-0206

20 December 2015

GLF3

United States Air Force

BOXER46

02-0201

22 December 2015

B73B

United States Air Force

SPAR22

05-0932

22 December 2015

B737

United States Air Force

 

95-0123

23 December 2015

C560

United States Army

CNV3641

165348

30 December 2015

C130

United States Navy

 

The SAM call signs indicate that some of the US Air Force planes are "Special Air Mission" (VIP) aircraft. Some of the US Navy planes are similarly identified - for example the aircraft with registration 165829 is a C-40A Clipper, a modified version of the Boeing 737, and it is also designated as "Special Mission".

Three Hercules C-130 aircraft landed in the month. These are all operated by US Navy reserve force squadrons; 165378 is operated by a squadron that operates out of Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility; 165160 and 165348 are operated by the VR-62 Fleet Logistics Support Squadron in Jacksonville.

VR-62's mission is to provide rapid response, global air logistics and support to US Maritime Forces worldwide and to International Security Operations. Known as the "Nomads", their crews and aircraft respond on short notice "to meet emerging needs of fleet operations". They provided support to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and are quite likely to still be engaged in military operations.

November was a busier month for military aircraft at Shannon. Here's a list of the planes that landed.

 

Call Sign

Registration

Landed

Aircraft Type

Registered Owner

SAM394

01-0040

01 November 2015

B73B

United States Air Force

CNV3503

165313

03 November 2015

C130

United States Navy

REACH802

79-0479

03 November 2015

C130

United States Air Force

VM767

166767

03 November 2015

C560

United States Marine Corps

 

165378

03 November 2015

C130

United States Navy

LOBO 01

161529

05 November 2015

DCC9

United States Navy

RAIDR12

165736

05 November 2015

C130

United States Marine Corps

DUKE55

99-0102

06 November 2015

C560

United States Army

RCH431

80-0321

06 November 2015

C130

United States Air Force

SAM602

99-0004

06 November 2015

B752

United States Air Force

CNV4381

165829

06 November 2015

B73B

United States Navy

RCH419

80-0322

07 November 2015

C130

United States Air Force

RCH804

79-0475

07 November 2015

C130

United States Air Force

VV100

166376

10 November 2015

GLF5

United States Navy

REACH803

79-0476

10 November 2015

C130

United States Air Force

LOBO01

161529

13 November 2015

DCC9

United States Navy

 

165160

15 November 2015

C130

United States Navy

HKY37

06-8611

16 November 2015

C130

United States Air Force

 

86-0204

18 November 2015

GLF3

United States Air Force

CNV3661

164997

19 November 2015

C130

United States Navy

SAM936

98-0002

22 November 2015

B752

United States Air Force

SAM834

99-0004

25 November 2015

B752

United States Air Force

SAM779

01-0040

27 November 2015

B73B

United States Air Force

SPAR16

05-4613

28 November 2015

B737

United States Air Force

SAM859

99-0003

28 November 2015

B752

United States Air Force

LOBO 01

161530

30 November 2015

DCC9

United States Navy

 

Earlier in the year we noticed the regular presence of military mid-air refuellers at Shannon and we were concerned that these might be involved in supporting the Saudi Arabia bombing campaign on Yemen. In answer to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that permission was granted for landings at Shannon of 46 aircraft that can operate as refuelling aircraft between January and 20 October 2015. He stated that none of these had Saudi Arabia as a next destination. However he did not answer the question he was asked, which was the numbers that were en-route to Saudi Arabia. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should be looking at the final destination of military planes going through Shannon, not just the next destination. Otherwise there is no way of knowing if they are likely to be involved in war crimes or human rights abuse.

 

Troop Carriers (Called "Civilian" but they are Military Planes)

In addition to these military planes, we recorded 367 troop carriers at Shannon in 2015. When troops fly on these they take their personnal weapons with them, which means that a typical flight has several hundred guns on it.

The monthly breakdown was as follows:

January  27    
February  16    
March  21    
April 37    
May 29    
June 20    
July 44    
August 27    
September 45    
October 70    
November 14    
December 17    
TOTAL 367    

 

This is a list of the troop carriers that went through Shannon in December. As the data shows, most of these were operated by Omni Air International. There was also a Miami Air troop carrier at Shannon on 17th December, as well as troop carriers from unidentified companies.


Call Sign

Registration

Landed

Aircraft Type

Registered Owners

CMB544

 

04 December 2015

   

CMB544

 

04 December 2015

   

CMB451

N342AX

05 December 2015

B763

Omni Air International

CMB586

 

06 December 2015

   

CMB451

N342AX

06 December 2015

B763

Omni Air International

CMB586

 

07 December 2015

   

CMB572

N567CA

09 December 2015

C550

Corporate

CMB528

N733MA

16 December 2015

B738

Miami Air

CMB536

 

16 December 2015

   

CMB528

N733MA

17 December 2015

B738

Miami Air

CMB453

N378AX

19 December 2015

B763

Omni Air International

CMB453

N378AX

20 December 2015

B763

Omni Air International

CMB515

N378AX

22 December 2015

B763

Omni Air International

CMB515

N378AX

23 December 2015

B763

Omni Air International

CMB543

 

23 December 2015

   

CMB543

 

24 December 2015

   

CMB543

 

24 December 2015

   

 

These planes are given licenses to land with the troops' weapons on board by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. To obtain further details on all these so-called "civilian" planes, including where they were coming from and going to, and the number of weapons on board, Shannonwatch must lodge freedom of information requests with the Department. They will not provide it otherwise.

Unfortunately the Department of Foreign Affairs which has responsibility for the "unarmed" military planes will not provide us with details of the US Air Force, Navy and Army planes coming through Shannon, even through Freedom of Information. The Irish Army protects these planes, and the Irish people foot the bill for the air traffic control costs. But we don't know who or what is on board, or why they are passing through Shannon.

As a sovereign state we have a right to know who is using our airports and airspace. However it often appears that the Irish government doesn't even know in advance about the military planes the US are landing at Shannon. They turn a blind eye, just as they did with the CIA rendition planes. And that is not something Irish people should tolerate, given the huge numbers of men, women and children who are suffering the horrific consequences of wars caused by US military operations.

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