RAF Typhoons intercept Russian patrol aircraft as they near UK airspace

Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth were scrambled yesterday (Wednesday 29 April) to monitor two Russian maritime patrol aircraft operating in the UK’s area of interest.

The Tu-142 ‘BEAR-F’ aircraft approached from the North-East and flew over the Norwegian and North Seas, but did not enter UK airspace.

Typhoons provide a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) service in UK airspace, which are launched to intercept unidentified aircraft because the aircraft cannot be identified by any other means. i.e. the aircraft is not talking to civilian or military Air Traffic Control, has not filed a flight plan and is not transmitting a recognisable secondary surveillance radar code.

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said: “These Russian bombers are relics of the Cold War, do not comply with international air traffic regulations and are a hazard to civilian and military aircraft. Despite the global pandemic, the Royal Air Force and our allies continue to ensure Russian military flights pose no threat to NATO and UK airspace.”

One of the Quick Reaction Alert pilots from RAF Lossiemouth, who intercepted the Russian Bears, said: “Today’s scramble demonstrated the close working relationships we have with our NATO colleagues. After scrambling to intercept the two Russian aircraft, we were in close contact with Battlespace Managers from the RAF and Norway, 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.”

Additional air to air refuelling support was provided by an RAF Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton, alongside comms and radar support from the National Air and Space Operations Centre (High Wycombe) and Air Surveillance and Control System (RAF Boulmer). All of these elements remain on constant vigil to provide the RAF’s contribution to the defence of the UK.

Norwegian Quick Reaction Alert was also launched in the form of F-16s and F-35s, and a NATO E-3A Airborne Early Warning aircraft was re-tasked while operating west of the Shetlands to enhance radar coverage in the area.

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