A Russian warplane was spotted entering protected airspace over the United Kingdom Friday and was intercepted by Royal Air Force (RAF) jets, the Guardian is reporting.
The bomber was spotted by the RAF Control and Reporting Centre at Boulmer in Northumberland, which scrambled the RAF Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
This marks the second time in three days that Russian aircraft have been escorted out of European airspace. Last week, according to this Inquisitr report, Russian bombers were intercepted by NATO jets over Northern Europe and escorted away.
Air Vice-Marshal Gary Waterfall praised the British pilots’ quick and brave reaction to the perceived Russian threat.
“The Royal Air Force was formed to secure the skies over the UK, and it remains our main task.. This week’s news has shown yet again that the RAF’s quick reaction alert is an essential element of our nation’s security … we are all committed to ensuring that whether it is a Russian Bear or a suspect airliner, each incident is responded to appropriately, managed successfully and resolved peacefully.”
An RAF spokesperson confirmed that Russian bombers had been in European airspace for the second time since last Wednesday, according to the BBC.
“Following a similar incident on Wednesday 29 October, the RAF Typhoon pilots visually identified the Russian aircraft and escorted them through the UK flight information region.”
The Russian incursion into U.K. airspace comes amid heightened tensions between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the West. Putin has been engaging the West in a series of sabre-rattling moves ever since Russia annexed Crimea and its forces made incursions into Ukraine. Putin has also been beefing up Russia’s military might, according to the Guardian, attempting to return it to its so-called “glory days” last seen before the Soviet Union collapsed.
The RAF spokesperson, however, cautioned that such moves are not necessarily a precursor to war, although Russian aircraft in European airspace are “shadowed” by NATO aircraft as a precaution.
However, a NATO spokesperson said that NATO has conducted over 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft over European airspace so far in 2014 — more than three times the number of such intercepts in all of 2013, according to the Independent.
“Scrambles and intercepts are standard procedure when an unknown aircraft approaches NATO airspace. However, such flights pose a potential risk to civil aviation given that the Russian military often do not file flight plans, or use their on-board transponders. This means civilian air traffic control cannot detect these aircraft nor ensure there is no interference.”
The Russian bomber, referred to by NATO forces as “The Bear Bomber,” was a Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-95 originally designed to carry nuclear warheads to the United States during the Cold War era.
[Image courtesy of: Animal Hi]