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RAF QUICK Reaction Alert Eurofighter Typhoon fighters were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth on 20 September to monitor two Russian aircraft approaching UK airspace.
The Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack long-range bombers were not communicating with air traffic control, making them a potential hazard to other traffic – according to the Ministry of Defence. The RAF worked closely with NATO partners to monitor the jets as they passed through international airspace, before they were intercepted by the pairing of Typhoons over the North Sea – about 100 miles from the British coast.
The British fighters were launched because the Russian aircraft were not talking to the various national air traffic agencies. Such interception sorties are a routine tasking for the RAF Quick Reaction Alert and at no time did the Russian bombers enter UK sovereign airspace. The two Blackjacks turned north and were escorted out of the UK’s ‘area of interest’ by the RAF.
According to Reuters, French aircraft were also involved in monitoring the two Russian bombers and although the MOD has declined to comment, it appears the Typhoons may have been supported by a Voyager tanker.