Reports out of the United Kingdom say that a pair of RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian Blackjack bombers that flew down the west coast of Ireland but did not enter UK airspace. The Russian bombers flight path took them down towards France before they turned back and exited to the north.
The French Air Force also sent jets to escort the Russian Tupolev Tu-160 bombers.
The Independent understands the Russian Tu-16 “Blackjack” bombers entered the UK’s area of interest from the north-east at around 10am, flying between the Shetland and Faroe islands, then down the west coast of Ireland and over the Bay of Biscay.
A Royal Air Force spokesman said: “We can confirm that quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers while they were in the UK area of interest. At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace.”
French and Spanish aircraft took over the interception but the two planes then turned around to head towards Russia, flying back into the British military’s “patch” while heading north. – Independent
Watch Raw Footage of the Tupolev Tu-160
While there was no indication if the Russian bombers were armed, the Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bomber is capable of launching nuclear missiles. The aircraft first flew in 1981 and is one of the largest and fastest supersonic bombers ever built with a top speed greater than Mach 2. The latest reports say Russia has 16 of these aircraft in their inventory but it is unclear how many are airworthy.
Featured image of Russian Blackjack bomber by French Air Force