Take a look at these photographs of the Russian Tu-160 bombers intercepted by the RAF Typhoons

Feb 18 2016 - 13 Comments

…an ordinary day for the British Typhoons in QRA (even though the photos show two French interceptors).

Social media went abuzz yesterday as two nuclear-capable Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjack bombers were intercepted by RAF Typhoons during a long-range sortie from their base in the Kola peninsula.

Although some British media reported that the Russian strategic bomber were heading into the UK airspace, as usual, the Tu-160s remained well outside the British sovereign airspace.

Two RAF Typhoons in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at RAF Coningsby were launched to intercept and escort the Blackjacks as they “skirted” the British Isles heading southwest, until they were handed over to the fighter jets launched by the French Air Force: noteworthy, a Rafale and maybe a Mirage 2000 appear in the photos released by the UK MoD today.

Tu160 intercepted UK 3

It’s not clear where the Tu-160s flew after their close encounter with the NATO fighters: according to some radiohams, they were heard northbound again a few hours later. If confirmed this would mean that this time the Blackjacks were not involved in a very long-range strike mission against IS targets in Syria as the one they flew in the night between Nov. 19 and 20, 2015, when two Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers from Olenegorsk airbase skirted the airspaces of Norway and the UK, flew over the Atlantic until Gibraltair, entered the Mediterranean sea, attacked targets in Syria with cruise missiles, and returned to Russia flying along the eastern corridor (over Iraq, Iran, Caspian Sea).

Nevertheless, the new mission proves Tu-160s are continuing flying long-range missions (for training or operative purposes) along the Atlantic route becoming more frequent visitors of airspaces near NATO countries in northern Europe than they were in the past few years.

Tu160 intercepted UK 2

Image credit: Crown Copyright


  • Miguel Vargas-Caba

    The TU-160 portrayed in the photograph carries the name of the Soviet WWII pilot Pavel Taran, who was a bomber pilot of the Soviet Long-range Aviation.

  • Jan Schmidt

    this reminds me: in may 2014 romania closed airspace on usa pressure for deputy prime minister Rogozin, so he sent bomber jet tweets “Upon U.S. request, Romania has closed its air
    space for my plane,” he tweeted. “Ukraine doesn’t allow me to pass
    through again. Next time I’ll fly on board TU-160.”

    he should not forget to bring a tanker and two PAKFA as escort :)

    • sferrin

      “Do it. We’d love to shoot down a Blackjack.”

  • blackjacks are some of the prettiest birds

  • Slaau Systems

    But it could start up X-102 (strategic cruise missile with a nuclear warhead “air-surface” using technology to reduce radar visibility. Range 5500 km, the accuracy to 10 m.) and disappear at a speed of 2.5M…

    • sferrin

      Neither the cruise missile nor bomber can go Mach 2.5. In fact the B-1A was faster than the Blackjack.

      • Mark Jhorr

        but it wasn’t built was it? The Valkyrie was even faster but even the USA could not afford to field it.

      • BigDaddy

        FB111A went faster yet, retired. 2.5 + is that patch on my uniform.

  • Testing RAF Coningsby

  • Dr. Douglas Fargo

    Yep, Russians love to copy western stuff! :/

    • Emanuele D’Alterio

      And the copy often is better…
      Buran and Tu-144 overall

      • Dr. Douglas Fargo

        Buran never even served, and the Tu-144 flew only for 3 years, and it was a joke.

        Try again!

  • Mark Jhorr

    I would love to see on in person. Just a stunning machine.