Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon fast jets were scrambled this morning to intercept Russian military aircraft operating in international airspace near UK airspace. The Typhoons launched from RAF Lossiemouth on Saturday morning and were joined by an RAF Voyager from RAF Brize Norton, which provided air-to-air refuelling for the Typhoons. Two Russian Tu-142 Bear F aircraft were intercepted. These aircraft are used in the roles of Anti-Submarine Warfare and Maritime Patrol. It is essential that their movements are carefully monitored when operating close to UK airspace.
To deter this unprofessional activity and mitigate the risks associated with Russian military aircraft flying in this busy international airspace, RAF Eurofighter Typhoons shadowed the two Russian Bears and closely monitored their movements. Other NATO allies also launched their Quick Reaction Alert assets to assist in monitoring the Russian aircraft. Controllers from RAF Scampton coordinated the mission, liaising with NATO partners at the Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany.
Russian military aircraft operating within the UK Flight Information Region can act as a hazard to other air users, especially in this case as this was busy airspace over the North Sea. Often these aircraft do not squawk, which involves transmitting a code to identify the aircraft’s intentions, position, and altitude, or talk to UK air traffic controllers, causing other civilian airliners in the area to be re-routed to prevent aircraft from flying too close.
The Voyager tanker supported the mission to provide air-to-air refuelling for the Typhoons. If a situation develops or another potential threat emerges, the Voyager’s ability to refuel Typhoons mid-flight increases their endurance so that they can redeploy and intercept further targets. The incident concluded by early afternoon, with the Typhoons returning to RAF Lossiemouth and the Voyager returning to RAF Brize Norton. They were quickly returned to a state of readiness, available to respond to other potential threats to the United Kingdom, 24/7/365.