QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) mission was sparked by Russian Tu-160 bombers activity off Scotland. But no intercept took place this time.
RAF Typhoons in QRA at RAF Lossiemouth, UK, “were scrambled today as a precautionary measure against unidentified aircraft approaching the UK area of interest. However, no intercept took place and the Typhoons subsequently recovered,” a UK MoD release states.
Indeed, two Russian Air Force Tu-160 bombers, tail numbers RF-94100 and RF-94108 based on their radio activity, skirted the British Isles, reportedly on their way to Venezuela.
10 DEC 0805z: Two RuAF Tu-160s now over the North Atlantic heading south west routing to Venezuela pic.twitter.com/KeEYMsWtSf
— Mil Radar (@MIL_Radar) December 10, 2018
The presence of two Russian bombers in international airspace off the coasts of Scotland triggered the launch of the Typhoons in state of readiness at RAF Lossiemouth, along with a supporting RAF Voyager tanker:
#QRA tanker NW of Brize Norton at 20,000ft
🇬🇧 RAF Voyager ZZ332 TARTN710 pic.twitter.com/koE1mGLUTR
— CivMilAir ✈ (@CivMilAir) December 10, 2018
Whilst QRA missions are launched every now and then, the real news this time is that the two Typhoon fighters were carrying the MBDA-developed Meteor air-to-air missiles.
MBDA Meteor is considered one of the most lethal BVR (Beyond Visual Range) AAMs currently available. One of its peculiarities is the use of ramjet ramjet propulsion system – solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket. “This ‘ramjet’ motor provides the missile with thrust all the way to target intercept, providing the largest No-Escape Zone of any air-to-air missile. To ensure total target destruction, the missile is equipped with both impact and proximity fuses and a fragmentation warhead that detonates on impact or at the optimum point of intercept to maximise lethality,” the vendor website says.
Meteor has been developed by a group of European partners led by MBDA to meet the needs of six European nations: the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden. The BVR AAM will equip Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen and will also be integrated with the F-35.
“The missile system is a worthy investment as it can fly in any weather condition, perform against all current and known future threats; including combat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles/missiles and will eventually operate from the F-35 Lightning aircraft,” the UK MoD says in a public release. “Crucially, the Meteor and launch aircraft will be networked by a datalink ensuring highly accurate and intelligent air strikes.”