UK scrambles Typhoons as Russian bombers come too close for comfort

16 January 2018

The UK scrambled Royal Air Force fighter jets to intercept two Russian bomber planes on Friday that were headed towards its airspace over the North Sea, but the incident ended when it became clear the Russian planes had not entered British air space.

Britain's ministry of defence (MoD) confirmed that the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft took off from Royal Air Force (RAF) base Lossiemouth in north east Scotland, without confirming the exact number of Typhoons involved.

"We can confirm that Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers approaching the UK area of interest," an MoD statement said.

"The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea. At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign UK airspace."

The closest the Russian jets came to British land was 40 nautical miles, or around 46 miles and were 30 nautical miles from British sovereign airspace.

Comments from the Russian side were not immediately available.

Typhoons are combat aircraft used in air policing and high-intensity conflict. A Voyager refuelling aircraft from the RAF Brize Norton base also supported the Typhoons during the operation.

RAF Lossiemouth is primarily used as a base for QRA, with pilots on duty 24 hours a day. The latest incident is being seen as part of a number of similar incidents involving Russia.

This is not the first recent incident of the kind. On 8 January, it was reported HMS Westminster, a Portsmouth-based Type 23 British frigate, was tasked to intercept two of Russia's warships and two supporting vessels as they passed close to the UK waters.

In September last year, two RAF Typhoons were scrambled to monitor a pair of Russian military planes flying towards the British airspace.

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