Three US Navy C-40A Clippers at Shannon in Six Days

Today November 12th, saw the third US Navy Boeing C-40A "Clipper" at Shannon in six days. It is a relatively new aircraft, registration 168980, and its first visit to Shannon was on 16th August this year. it is operated by Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 61 (VR-61).

Lest We Forget

Lest we forget, warplanes are still being refuelled at Shannon Airport and this is certainly helping to refuel wars in the Middle East.

Today Sat 7th Nov at 1pm, there were three US warplanes at Shannon Airport. One Hercules C130 was just taking off. Another was still in the so-called "secure" parking area; this was a C130H belonging to ANG Savanah, Georgia, and operated by 165 Air Lift Wing. The registration number was 800321. Unusually it rear tail-gate was open, and in the photograph taken by Shannonwatch a US soldier can be seen standing on the right side of the tailgate. It is not clear what the object visible to his left as we look at it, inside the aircraft, was. It may have been a vehicle, and possible an armoured vehicle.

More US Air Force Aerial Refuellers at Shannon

This morning, Sunday Oct 25th, Shannonwatch recorded two US Air Force KC10 mid air refuelling warplanes at Shannon. They may have been 'resting' or stocking up on fuel after refuelling fighter aircraft in or near Irish airspace.

Last Wednesday 21st October six US marine corps F18 Hornet fighter aircraft were making the journey from the Middle East back to the USA via the UK. One of these F18 aircraft crashed in Cambridgeshire reportedly after failing to make a mid air refuelling linkup. These six F18 fighters had most likely been involved in bombing campaigns in the Middle East. They had travelled from Bahrain. We don't know why there were returning to the US - it may have been for upgrading. The pilot of the crashed jet ejected but was killed.

More Questions for the Irish Government - this Time about Yemen

Map from CommonDreams article (April 2015) The Collapse of the Obama Doctrine: Yemen War as an Opportunity?

Over the years there have been regular movements of US military refuelling planes through Shannon. The government won't tell us why they land there however. Are they refuelling US military planes just outside Irish airspace? Are they collecting cheap fuel? Are they on their way to warzones to re-fuel fighter jets?

These type of planes are currently engaged in ongoing aerial refuelling sorties in support of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. They began this in April, linking up with F-16s from the United Arab Emirates and with Saudi F-15s somewhere outside Yemeni airspace.

Warplanes At Shannon Today

War has not gone away from Shannon Airport. Today (Oct 17th) at about 2pm there were no less than three Omni Air International chartered aircraft being refuelled at Shannon. The capacity of Omni Air aircraft varies from 240 passengers and up to 380 passengers. But these planes are not carrying ordinary passengers. They are carrying US soldiers, and each soldier normally brings an automatic rifle and an automatic pistol with him or her.

Today up to a full battalion of US troops probably passed through Shannon in a supposedly neutral country.

Did Aircraft that Bombed Hospital in Kunduz Pass Through Ireland?

Reports indicate that the horrific bombing of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan by the US Air Force may have been carried out by one of their AC-130 aircraft. Shannonwatch call on the Irish government to immediately investigate and clarify if the aircraft involved passed through Shannon Airport or Irish airspace on its way to Afghanistan.

"The US hit a very large hospital full of wounded patients", said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch. "They killed 22 people, including 3 children, and they continued to bomb the hospital for 30 minutes after MSF had informed the US military that the hospital was under attack. This would appear to be a war crime, and it is one that Ireland may be implicated in."

"The US aircraft that carried out this bombing may well have been authorised by the Irish Government to land and refuel at Shannon Airport, or fly through Irish airspace when it was being deployed to Afghanistan" said Mr Horgan.

Does Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe Really Think We're Neutral?

We are astounded to hear the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe say in a Dail debate yesterday (23rd Sept 2015) that Ireland is a neutral country. He handed out permits to over 550 US planes to take munitions through Shannon and Irish airspace since the start of the year, and yet he claims we're neutral.

In response to Dail questions from TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace the Minister said that the number of US troops who have passed through Shannon Airport to date in 2015 is 39,613.   He also said that the number of requests his Department received up to the end of August 2015 from civilian aircraft to land at Shannon Airport or pass through Irish airspace while carrying munitions was 566. Of these, one request came from an Irish airline, six requests came from a UK airline, five from a Turkish airline and the remainder came from US airlines.

Extent of Shannon and Ireland’s Complicity in War Revealed

The Department of Transport has revealed that in 2014 a total of 272 flights were given permits to take weapons or explosives through Shannon Airport. In response to a freedom of information request by Shannonwatch they confirmed that the majority of the flights were taking US troops between military bases and locations in the Middle East. The information also shows that US troop carriers and aircraft with machine guns, rocket motors and other war material are routinely allowed to fly through Irish airspace. Again the majority of these are flying to or from US military bases around the world.

The permits are requested by airline operators under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order. Close to twenty requests were refused in 2014 but the Department would not reveal where these were from or why they were refused. It would only state that they were refused on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Freedom of Information Request Reveals Details of Munitions Through Ireland in 2014

Shannonwatch have received details under freedom of information on all requests for exemption under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order, 1973, as amended, for the carriage of weapons and munitions through Irish airports and airspace in 2014. In total there were 606 requests made. The official figure for the m=number approved by the Minister for Transport is 584.

The information obtained shows that

  • Over 270 flights were given permits to take weapons or explosives through Shannon Airport in the year. Most of these were US troop carriers
  • Most of the troop carriers were operated by Omni Air International but others included  National Airlines (13), Atlas Air (6), Delta Airlines (4) and North American Airlines (2).

There's a lot Ireland can do for People Fleeing from War

As people flee from countries ravaged by war and poverty and European governments shut their doors in their faces, we have responsibilities as human beings to act. We must demand that our governments do everything they can to end the cruel deaths we see happening in the backs of lorries, in the sea, in other parts of the long tortuous journeys that the people of Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, South Sudan, Eritrea and elsewhere undertake in order to stay alive.