RAF Atlas aircraft flying over Thanet in Border Force support role

The RAF craft over the West Cliff Photo Lucy Stillman

By Dan Thompson

Plane-spotters on the south side of the Isle of Thanet have caught sight of an unusual aircraft this morning (August 10).

The Royal Air Force has sent an Atlas aircraft from RAF Brize Norton this morning to support Border Force operations in the Channel.

The deployment has been authorised by the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP, supporting the Home Office who are responsible for the UK’s border security.

There have been 4,000 migrant crossings to the UK so far this year.

The A400M Atlas is a European aircraft,  designed and built jointly by France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. It has a 42 metre wingspan and four turboprop engines.

Used as a transport aircraft, the Atlas can easily be fitted with specialist equipment for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

The version flying between Dungeness and Broadstairs this morning is being used in this role. So far, it has been over the area for nearly six hours.


  1. The Atlas was designed and built by six different European countries and Turkey. Just as all our cars are built jointly by European countries.
    This is the future……brexit belongs in the past.

  2. Bt what is the purpose of this RAF aircraft ?

    Is it to shoot and sink any boats seen to be full of illegal immigrants or is it to direct rescue services to pick up the illegal immigrants in order that they can be given warm welcome, food, clothes, money and accommodated in luxury hotels at the taxpayers’ expense ?

    • John’s fantasy is not what actually happens. No luxury hotels. Probably not a warm welcome but at least a humane one. I hope the arriving migrants will become physically warm after their journey and I hope they will be given food and drink.

  3. This is all getting completely over the top!

    A few exhausted unarmed civilians struggle across the Channel in rubber boats and there are calls for RAF planes and Navy ships!!

    Germany has three times as many asylum applications as Britain and France has nearly as many as Germany. Yet we British are seen as the most pathetic wimps in Europe who clutch their pearls in horror and moan about not being able to cope with it all!!

    Doesn’t this indicate that our economy is feebler than we claim if we cannot arrange a functioning asylum system without calling on the armed services!
    All this talk of “controlling our own borders” but the first thing the government does is beg the French for help!!

    • Keefogs – you seem to have completely overlooked the purpose and intention of the “asylum system”.

      Those fleeing persecution are supposed to claim asylum in the first safe country they come to – not chose to track halfway across the world to reach England. Why have they passed through France, Germany, Holland or Belgium (as well as six or eight other countries) to get here ?

      Why are they paying £4,000 each to come across the channel in a rubber boat when it would be safer and cheaper to come by plane or ferry ?

      The answer, Keefrogs, is because they are illegal immigrants.

      All our houses are already full and that is why we are having to build more and more on green field sites. Common sense says that we are full up and we cannot accommodate any more people. Will you only be happy when England is no more a green and pleasant land ?

  4. Why can’t they be fed and watered and given a check over then put on a naval ship and taken back to France. ??
    If someone walked into your house you would not let them stay so why are we allowing this criminal behaviour.

    • Derp.

      But England is the best country ever, no?
      For years English people have being saying how terrible Europe is so why would a refugee want to go stay there?

      If you look at the stats, England has done bugger all compared to other countries. In Lebanon they have well over 1,000,000 refugees in a country with a total population around 7m. Germany and France have both taken in huge amounts more than England.

      Gammons losing their pineapple over 4,000 people.

  5. I think that all migrants caught crossings to the UK should not be our responsibility they should be returned to France the owners of the boats made to serve long prison sentences

    • Thank goodness there are plenty of folk who don’t hold your bigoted racist sentiments.
      I bet you voted “out”, too.

      • Andrew instead of wasting your energy being a keyboard warrior why don’t you stand on the shoreline and welcome these people into your heart and home!!
        They are not coming here to make friends.
        But seeing as you have such a big heart then we’ll leave it to you shall we..
        Why waste money on a plane when we have an Andrew to save the day
        God help us all…..

        • Don’t be ridiculous, Traynor.If some people weren’t heartless insensitive so-and -sos, people like Andrew would not need to make such comments.

          Perhaps I should ask “Traynor, why don’t you stand on the beach and push arriving refugees back into the water?”

          • And you think I wouldn’t do you.??
            Thank god the RAF are helping out now this has to stop…
            This country is not here to rehome and rehouse illegal immigrants end of.
            Marva Rees, Andrew and Kellogg’s you are all clearly related…

  6. “If only Manston was open they could operate from there and the could come in and refuel from Manston” say the airport fans !!

    The A400 has an operating range of 3000 or so miles, they are going to operate from their own base, an active RAF base, and active airport on the national fuel pipeline not one that has to have expensive fuel tankered in, the reason why Manston won’t get the business that RSP tell us nor the jobs they say they will create !!!!!

  7. They are economic migrants they are NOT seeking asylum, If they were then they would stay in the first safe country they come across, we are certainly NOT the first country on their travels..open your bloody eyes we’ve had enough of them and it’s time to stop the hospitality to these free loaders!!!..If all you do gooders feel so strong about letting them in to Blighty then maybe you should all leave this country too!!!

  8. Ah, Pearlbarley, the classic response. So if we don’t agree with your warped sense of values, we should leave your UK? What happens when we don’t? Are you going to advocate the shooting of dissenters, and then presumably, the invasion of Poland? Our way of life isn’t being threatened by exhausted refugees, no matter how much you wish to believe it is. The rich donors , corrupt public officials, and corporate tax evaders being driven hither and thither in Bentleys are far more dangerous than those poor and desperate few arriving in boats. If you can’t see that, then I’m sorry but there is a howling void where your compassion should be. And, arguably, your common sense.

    • Nothing wrong with my values they’re just different from yours obviously!!!..as a country we should be looking after our own people first not extending our hospitality to invaders of our shores we’ve defended Blighty from invaders in the past and it should be defended again from these economic migrants who,as it’s been said before,should be going to the first safe country they can get to if they are genuine asylum refugees..It is not just a few it’s 1000’s so check your statistics!.Other countries such as Greece have had enough and Australia is less hospitable!..we are a small island and we DO NOT have the space, NHS services and benefit system created for the people of this country who need it, paid for by the people of this country so why the hell should we contribute to invaders wishing to milk these benefits. Send them back and defend our country and if you feel so strongly about their welfare then maybe you should do one too!!!

  9. Don’t you tell people to “open their bloody eyes”! They’re all “freeloaders”? I don’t think so. They are refugees- since when did refugees become people to despise? What would make you want to cross a stretch of open water with your small children in an overcrowded boat?

    People like these are living in squalor in garden sheds in at least one British city. They are working for a pittance and are ofte doing what is effectively slave labour, any documents eg passports being held by gangmasters to ensure cooperation by these unfortunate people.

    Is that the kind of hospitality you’re thinking of?

    • You DO need to open your eyes and reflect on the hardships that people of this land have to go through..homeless families that are born and bred here that can’t get housing!..force veterans that are homeless when they’ve served this country and yet there’s plenty of accommodation to give to these economic leeches!!!..they are sucking this country dry and i will have my say whether you like it or not!!!…this is a land of freedom of speech!!!

  10. In the many many places I’ve lived and worked all round the world, I’ve seldom experienced anywhere as lovely as Ramsgate. It saddens me very much, therefore, that there are so many people who have such empty, soulless hearts.
    I’ve no idea why refugees struggle to get to the UK when they could stay in Italy or France. What I am sure of is that if your home town has been bombed to pieces day after day, reduced to rubble, no electricity, water, food, sanitation, hospitals, schools, transportation, government or security; where your womenfolk are raped and your men folk murdered, then I can understand why you’d risk all for the sake of your family, to see if they can have a half decent chance at a life of some sort.
    Mind you, if I were a refugee and read some of the comments on here, I don’t think I’d want to come.

  11. The thing is they shouldn’t be making their way across many countries to get to the UK. That is not a refugee! As someone else has already said, these coming in boats from France are economical illegal migrants. They are all paying thousands of pounds each to traffickers to get them on a boat so they can sneak into Britain and disappear into the murky world of slave labour and gangs. There is much of it in our cities and these migrants think they can make their fortunes here. Nobody is telling them it is not the rosy picture they think it is and they fall into the hands of the unscrupulous gang masters working all hours to pay their way or end up on the streets with nothing. The Uk cannot sustain the benefits bill as it is without all the migrants adding to it. 4 thousand have sneaked across and been helped by Border Force this year already, the most ever. Only 3% have been sent back. This cannot be allowed to continue, this is a small country and there is not enough homes for those here nevermind thousands of others. We have UK citizens on the streets homeless who need a home first.

    • The “benefits bill” could be paid several times over were outfits like Amazon and Virgin to pay taxes in the UK rather than the BVI.
      Who is the bigger criminal? Bombed out souls, desperate to stay alive, or mega corporations, seeking ways to make even more money?

  12. There seems to be a false impression that Britain is somehow the number one choice for asylum seekers.In fact, the vast majority of Iraqi or Syrian refugees are in neighbouring countries like Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan.
    The minority that move on to Europe go to Sweden or Germany or Italy or even France.
    The tiny minority that make it to the Channel coast of France have very specific reasons for preferring Britain as a destination.
    This is usually family ties to people living in Britain or an ability to speak some English.
    Refusing to accept their asylum applications because they were in a safe country earlier has already created a situation where some family members are in Britain but close relatives are told that have to go and live in Greece or France when their own family can care for them in this country.
    Of course, under EU rules, any member country can always return a migrant to the country they travelled from , if it made any sense, no questions asked. Being in the EU made this straightforward.
    But, once Britain is no longer in the EU (when will that REALLY happen? It keeps getting delayed!) then Britain will have to negotiate separate arrangements with France and then one with Belgium and Holland and Ireland.In fact every different country that an asylum seeker might pass through.
    And Britain may have to pay for the privilege of France helping to control Britain’s borders, of course. This could all become quite expensive. On top of all the new lorry parks, the new redtape/paperwork and the new tariffs putting up the price of imports.
    Apart from that, this Brexit/”take back control” is all going ever so well!!

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