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Six RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft as they approached British airspace on 7th March

Ministry of Defence

Royal Air Force Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby intercept Russian aircraft approaching UK Air Space on the 7th March 2020.

“This was a routine response to Russian aircraft approaching UK air space and was coordinated with several other NATO allies. The Russian bombers were tracked heading towards the north-west coast of Scotland on Saturday. It prompted the air force to deploy three pairs of Typhoons from its Quick Reaction Alert programme. Two pairs left from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, while the third flew from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.”

Ministry of Defence

Flying in formation, two pairs approached the aircraft before withdrawing, while the third pair forced them to change course.

They pose two potential problems.

These aircraft often don’t talk to air traffic control and may not be ‘squawking’, which means broadcasting a code seen by other aircraft. As their intentions are unknown, controllers reroute civilian traffic to ensure they are safely separated and deconflicted.

Acting as a communications relay, the Bear-J trails a very long ‘trailing wire antenna’. This antenna can extend out almost five miles, and poses a potential risk to anything flying in its trail if not managed by air traffic controllers.

“Not only do our Typhoons act as a deterrent to this activity, but they can make themselves visible to air traffic controllers and Battlespace Managers. Ultimately, we are not just securing the skies, but making them safer for other airspace users.”

Ministry of Defence

© Crown Copyright 2020

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