Russian military aircraft spotted in British skies near Nato monitoring base

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson confirmed that the flight was 'part of a longstanding agreement' and that there were British service personnel on board

Rose Troup Buchanan
Wednesday 20 May 2015 16:22 BST
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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A Russian military aeroplane has been spotted in British airspace near a Nato monitoring base earlier today.

The Antonov An-30 military surveillance aircraft was spotted flying roughly 30 miles from Menwith Hill, a high-tech Nato monitoring station based in north Yorkshire, by 41-year-old semi-professional photographer Steve Bradley.

Mr Bradley, who captured images of the aircraft, told the Lanchashire Telegraph: “It was a bit scary to be honest. I just saw it flying pretty low and wondered: ‘Should that really be here?’”.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the Russian Federation Air Force plane, nicknamed the ‘Clank’, had been flying in British airspace after leaving RAF base Brize Norton.

But an MOD spokesperson told The Independent the plane had been on a routine flight and was part of a “longstanding agreement”.

The spokesperson claimed: “This was a routine observation flight under the Open Skies Treaty with RAF personnel on board the aircraft.”

The treaty, which came into force in 2002, has 34 participating nations – including Russia and Ukraine – who annually allow unarmed surveillance planes to fly over their nations in an effort to build trust.

Part of the agreement allows the Russian military to conduct two short-notice unarmed surveillance flights over the UK, which will conduct four similar surveillance missions over Russia in the course of this year.

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