Hercules to join Tornadoes for low-level Borders training

Two Tornado GR4 13 Squadron Royal Air Force based at RAF Marham are pictured flying over Western Scotland.
Two Tornado GR4 13 Squadron Royal Air Force based at RAF Marham are pictured flying over Western Scotland.

JET fighters will be joined by giant Hercules transport aircraft in the skies over the Borders next month, writes Mark Entwistle.

The Royal Air Force has issued a list of dates and times when the aircraft will be using tactical training area (TTA) that includes the Borders for operational low flying training.

According to the RAF, operational low flying by fixed-wing aircraft between 250ft and 100ft is a more representative altitude at which pilots would actually fly in a combat scenario.

The final decision to use a TTA is taken on the day as this kind of training can only take place when there is good visibility from cloud. However, while it is likely a number of the slots will not be used, no additional times will be added to those already booked.

Low flying will take place over the Borders each day next month, between 9am at the earliest and 5.30pm at the latest.

There was concern earlier this year after it was revealed two Tornado fighter-bombers from RAF Lossiemouth missed each other by a split second in the night skies during a training exercise near Galashiels in September.

The two swing-wing jets screamed passed each other at a combined speed of more than 1,000mph and avoided collision by just 60 metres just south-east of Galashiels, after both pilots failed to spot each other.

In its most recent report, the UK Airprox Board gave the incident its highest risk rating of A, meaning a risk of collision existed.

The two aircraft, flying at 600ft, only narrowly avoided colliding after one of them had flown into the area two minutes before its allotted time.

One jet crossed the path of the other at the same altitude and just 60 metres – or a quarter of a second – ahead.