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RAF Typhoon jets intercept Russian bombers flying north of Scotland

RAF Typhoon jets intercepted Russian bombers flying north of Scotland in the early hours of Monday morning, the UK government has said.

Typhoon fighters were scrambled to intercept two Russian long-range maritime patrol bombers as they transited near the Shetland Islands within NATO’s northern air policing area, the government added.

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The UK quick reaction alert (QRA) jets were launched from RAF Lossiemouth in northeast Scotland and the two Russian bombers were monitored in international airspace as they flew north of the UK.


A Voyager refuelling tanker was also launched and remained airborne for the duration of the mission – not specified by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) – to offer air-to-air refuelling to the Typhoon fighters if needed.

An RAF Typhoon and a refuelling plane. Pic: MoD

Minister for the armed forces, James Heappey, said: “RAF crews at Lossiemouth maintain a constant watch over UK airspace and are always ready to take action at a moment’s notice to keep our country safe.

“Pilots launched in their Typhoon jets to intercept two Russian long-range bombers this morning, monitoring them as they passed north of the Shetland Islands, ready to counter any potential threat to UK territory.”

An RAF Typhoon and a Russian Tupolev Tu-142. Pic: MOD
An RAF Typhoon and a Russian Tupolev Tu-142. Pic: MoD

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The lead RAF Typhoon pilot, who was not named by the MoD, added: “It’s really satisfying to know we’ve been able to make a successful intercept, maintaining the integrity of UK and NATO airspace.

“When the alarm for a scramble happened in the early hours of the morning, the adrenaline kicked in. Working in tandem with ground control operators, and with air-to-air refuelling from an RAF Voyager, we were able to stay on task until the mission was complete, and the target aircraft departed the UK’s area of interest.”

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UK pilots from RAF Lossiemouth recently completed a four-month deployment to lead NATO’s air policing mission in Estonia where they intercepted 50 Russian aircraft and flew for a combined total of more than 500 hours.

This is not the first time RAF quick reaction aircrafts have intercepted Russian jets near UK airspace – a Russian spy plane was intercepted north of Scotland in May earlier this year, although such interceptions have happened for many years.

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RAF jets intercepted Russian aircrafts over NATO airspace one week ago

When Russian jets enter airspace controlled by the UK, QRA fighters are despatched immediately as they can often be a danger to other aircraft because they do not talk to air traffic control, and nor do they “squawk” with their code to let other air users know they are there.

Similarly, Moscow claimed in June that it had to scramble its own jets after three British warplanes were detected near the country’s border – but the Ministry of Defence later described it as “a routine operation in international airspace”.


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