Two Russian Bombers Fly Near Northern Scotland, RAF Lossiemouth and Brize Norton Respond.
For the third time in six days, Russian aircraft have flown patrols near the UK and, according to an official release from the UK Forces media outlet, “…have not complied with international air traffic rules, causing the RAF to scramble planes to intercept”.
Two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 White Swan (NATO codename “Blackjack”) strategic bombers from Russia’s 121st Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment from Engels Air Force Base near Saratov, the only unit flying the approximately 14 operational Tu-160 aircraft, were detected approaching the northern coast of Scotland before they continued south along the western coast of Ireland.
Three RAF Typhoons from Lossiemouth and an Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) Voyager from RAF Brize Norton launched to intercept the Tu-160s.
A Russian media report translated from the news outlet tvzvezda.ru said, “Two strategic missile carriers, Tu-160, made a planned flight in the airspace over the neutral waters of the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The flight duration exceeded 15 hours. During this time, the Tu-160 crews worked out refueling in the air.” The Russian language report auto-translated to English went on to say, “At certain stages of the route, Russian missile carriers accompanied the Norwegian Air Force F-16 fighters and the British Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon. Long-range pilots regularly fly over the neutral waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, Black and Baltic Seas, and the Pacific Ocean. All flights of aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces are carried out in strict accordance with the International Rules for the Use of Airspace.”
The Russian report disputed the UK Forces release that said the Tu-160s “…have not complied with international air traffic rules…”.
The RAF sortie resulted in some spectacular photos of the massive Russian White Swans, currently the largest and fastest known strategic bomber. The RAF later tweeted, “The Tu-160s tracked down the Irish coast, towards the Bay of Biscay where they were met by QRA from the Armee de L’air (French Air Forces). Returning north, they were shadowed by our Typhoons who led them out of our area of interest. At no time did they enter UK sovereign airspace.”
With this most recent intercept being the third in what appears to be a series, it will be worth monitoring the region to see if any further missions are launched by the Russian air forces, hopefully resulting in more spectacular photos and video.