Russian military to perform observation flights over UK this week

RAF Typhoon fighter jets will not be scrambled to intercept the aircraft

Samuel Osborne
Monday 15 May 2017 10:50 BST
RAF personnel will be on board the Russian Antonov An-30B as it conducts its flights
RAF personnel will be on board the Russian Antonov An-30B as it conducts its flights (Wikimedia Commons)

The Russian military has been given free rein to perform several observation flights over the UK this week.

Instead of scrambling RAF Typhoon fighter jets to intercept the Russian plane, it will be welcomed under the international Treaty on Open Skies.

From Monday to Friday this week, the Antonov An-30B will fly from RAF Brize Norton in Oxford with RAF personnel on board.

It will follow a flight plan pre-approved by the Ministry of Defence and Royal Air Force.

Russia shows off military might in Victory Day parade

"The observation flight will be performed in a period from May 15 to 19, 2017 from the Open Skies airdrome Brize Norton," Sergei Rhzhkov, head of Russia's Nuclear Risk Reduction Center announced, according to the TASS news agency.

"The maximum range of the flight will be 2,400km," he added.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence told The Independent UK military personnel will be "on board the Russian aircraft throughout the flight, ensuring compliance with treaty conditions.”

He said: “This is a completely routine visit which follows a UK over flight of Russia earlier this month."

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 and came into force in 2002 with 34 signatory states.

It is designed to promote mutual understanding and confidence by giving participants the ability to gather information about military forces and activities of concern to them.

It comes as more Nato fighter jets are being scrambled to intercept and monitor Russian planes than at any since since the end of the Cold War.

Around 780 deployments were made from European military bases last year compared to just 410 in 2015.

Fighter jets are typically launched to visually identify foreign aircraft and ascertain whether they are a threat, as when Russian Blackjack bombers spent more than five hours skirting British airspace earlier this year.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in