Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters stationed in Scotland have been dispatched to intercept a Russian military plane that was operating close to UK airspace. The plane was identified as a Tu-142 Maritime Patrol aircraft, also known as a Bear-F by NATO. It approached from the North-East and flew in international airspace over the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic Ocean on Sunday. In reaction, jets were sent from Royal Air Force Lossiemouth to intercept the Russian plane.
Norwegian F-35A fighter jets were also launched to monitor the Russian threat as part of NATO’s response.
However, it did not enter UK sovereign airspace at any point during the incident.
An RAF Typhoon pilot said the scramble “demonstrated the close working relationships we have with our NATO colleagues.”
They continued: “After scrambling to intercept the Russian aircraft, we were in close contact with RAF Battlespace Managers, who directed us towards the aircraft and relayed orders throughout.
“Ensuring we could confirm where they were and what they were doing at all times.”
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A Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton also provided additional air-to-air refuelling support.
While the National Air and Space Operations Centre at RAF High Wycombe and the Air Surveillance and Control System at RAF Boulmer provided command and control.
QRA procedures involve the RAF holding aircraft and crews at continuous high readiness to take off within minutes and intercept any unidentified aircraft flying in the UK’s area of interest to protect UK sovereign airspace if required.
In March last year, Russian planes were intercepted by RAF Typhoons flying close to Scotland on three separate occasions in the same week.
In response to reports of two Russian Blackjacks travelling north of Stornoway, two jets were launched from RAF Lossiemouth as part of the RAF’s Quick Reaction Alert program.
The Russian Tupolev Tu-160 planes, which are used as supersonic strategic bombers and long-range maritime patrol planes, were involved.
Tu-160 aircraft were created in the 1970s by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the Soviet Union and hold the distinction of being the largest and heaviest military planes capable of flying at speeds above Mach 2.
Last year in March, RAF fighter jets were dispatched twice to intercept Russian planes flying near Scotland.
On one occasion, two Russian Blackjacks were reported to be travelling north of Stornoway, leading to two RAF Typhoons being launched under the Quick Reaction Alert programme.
This incident came just after four RAF fighter jets had been scrambled to stop Russian bombers from entering British airspace.
Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, head of the air staff, commented on the situation, saying that these Russian bombers were a risk to commercial flights.
The Chief of the air staff said: “These Russian bombers do not comply with international air traffic rules, are a hazard to airliners and are not welcome in our airspace.”