Royal Air Force Quick Reaction Alert (RAF QRA) Typhoons at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby scrambled today to intercept Russian Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” strategic bombers and long-range long range aviation aircraft. The six Eurofighter Typhoons were supported by Airbus A330 MRTT Voyager tankers from RAF Brize Norton, Weapons Controllers from RAF Boulmer, and Air Traffic Controllers from RAF Swanwick. The Russian aircraft were shadowed by Royal Air Force Typhoons and at no point did the Bears enter UK sovereign airspace. NATO allies were also active today in a coordinated response.
Royal Air Force planes were dispatched to stop Russian military planes entering UK airspace a number of times last year. The National Air Defence Operations Centre (NADOC) at RAF Air Command, High Wycombe collates information from radar sites across the UK and from civilian air traffic and intelligence agencies. They decide the threat is sufficient to scramble Typhoon jets and pass the order to to the Control and Reporting Centres (CRCs) at RAF Scampton and RAF Boulmer. The CRCs have direct contact with the pilots at RAF Lossiemouth and pass on the scramble message. Pilots at RAF Coningsby are ordered to standby in the cockpits of their Typhoons. RAF Coningsby is the second QRA station in the UK.
RAF air traffic controllers at RAF(U) Swanwick work with their civilian counterparts to ensure the Typhoons can follow the most direct route to their target. They are embedded within the Swanwick Centre run by NATS, the UK’s main civil air services provider. RAF Aerospace Systems Operators at RAF High Wycombe and Air Traffic Controllers at RAF(U) Swanwick continuously coordinate the response with the scrambled Typhoon pilots. An RAF Voyager with air-to-air refuelling capability is put on standby at RAF Brize Norton. Typhoons can be refuelled in mid-air to extend their range and endurance.