RAF fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft near Scotland, MoD says

Nato forces move to head off an unknown number of bombers near British airspace

Andy Gregory
Saturday 07 March 2020 23:01
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RAF fighter jets have been scrambled to intercept several Russian aircraft skirting British airspace.

An unconfirmed number of Russian aircraft were spotted near Scotland and within what the RAF described as the UK’s “area of interest”, prompting the deployment of three pairs of Eurofighter Typhoons alongside several other Nato assets.

The planes were revealed to be Tupolev Tu-95 Bears – strategic bombers used for long-range maritime patrols.

“This was a routine response to Russian aircraft approaching UK airspace and was coordinated with several other Nato allies,” an RAF spokesperson said.

Two pairs of Typhoons were dispatched from RAF Lossiemouth, close to Moray in northeast Scotland, while the third flew from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

“At no point did these aircraft enter UK sovereign airspace,” RAF Lossiemouth wrote on Twitter. “The Russian aircraft were shadowed by our Typhoons, along with [Quick Reaction Alert] aircraft from our Nato partners in Norway and France.”

A Voyager tanker – the air-to-air refuelling aircraft – from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire was also deployed to support the mission. The total number of Russian aircraft involved in the incident has not been revealed.

The Independent has contacted Russia’s UK embassy for comment.

Nato forces in the Quick Reaction Alert programme were deployed several times last year in response to the threat of suspected Russian aircraft nearing British airspace.

In April, as UK-Russian relations soured in the wake of the Salisbury poisonings, Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth were scrambled twice in five days. During the same period, jets from RAF Coningsby were also deployed to a separate incident involving Russian aircraft.

RAF fighter jets were also deployed several times to see off Russian planes encroaching on Estonian airspace. At the time, RAF personnel had been participating in Operation Azotize, a four-month deployment in the Baltic country, to support the Nato Baltic air policing mission.

Russia frequently uses its warplanes to intimidate the smaller country and test the strength of its response.

Additional reporting by PA

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