Military Aviation


British, French fighters scrambled to intercept Tu-160 bombers

On Feb. 9, 2017 Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire were scrambled to intercept two Russian Air and Space Force (RuASF) Tupolev Tu-160 (NATO reporting name Blackjack) bombers which passed near UK airspace yesterday morning.

Even though the Russian aircraft did not violate British territorial airspace, the RAF fighters were scrambled to monitor the Blackjacks since they were in the UK’s “area of interest.”

According to the Daily Mail the two strategic bombers were monitored coming from the north east and passed to the west of Ireland.

A Voyager tanker aircraft from RAF Brize Norton supported the Typhoons during the mission.

“We can confirm that quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers while they were in the UK area of interest,” a RAF spokesman said.

“At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace.”

Noteworthy the interesting photos in this post were taken by two Armée de l’Air (French Air Force, FAF) Mirage 2000s which escorted the two Blackjacks down the French coast before handing over to Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force, SpAF) F/A-18 Hornets.

Blackjack increased over the North Atlantic

Since in recent years Russia commenced a new era of flexing its military and political might, Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack activity has steadily increased over the North Atlantic. Typically after the bombers take off from Engels, deep within Russia or from forward bases around Murmansk, Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force, RNoAF) fighters intercept the Russian Aircraft when they come around the North Cape, then RNoAF hand over to RAF interceptors and if the Russians keep going south or west RAF fighters hand over to FAF and SpAF or whoever is providing the NATO Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) in Iceland.

Photo credit: © Armeè de l’Air

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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