Typhoon-Tu-95 Bear

Two UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighters intercepted two Russian Tu-95 Bear long-range bombers on 29 January that were flying in international airspace near the UK.

Even though the Russian aircraft did not enter the UK sovereign airspace, they were escorted by the British Typhoons until they left the UK flight information region in a mission that lasted for more than 12 hours.

A RAF Control and Reporting Centre Boulmer master controller said: "Thanks to our integration with air defence systems across Nato, we were able to begin mission planning early, and therefore were ready to act in good time.

"Once ordered to by the Nato Combined Air Operations Centre in Germany, Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert fighters were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth to intercept and identify the aircraft.

"Integration with our colleagues in the Royal Navy provided additional surveillance coverage and added value to the mission."

The UK Foreign Office said the manoeuvres were part of an increasing pattern of out-of-area operations by the Russian aircraft, and caused disruption to the civil aviation.

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"Thanks to the RAF’s integration with air defence systems across Nato, we were able to begin mission planning early and…were ready to act in good time. "

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "That is why we summoned the Russian ambassador today to account for the incident."

However, Russia downplayed the incident saying the manoeuvres were part of a 19-hour air patrolling mission through the Barents and Norwegian Seas and Atlantic Ocean.

Russian Air Force spokesman colonel Ivan Klimov was quoted by RT as saying that the bombers, accompanied by a MiG-31 supersonic aircraft, conducted two midair refuelling operations during the mission, and were also escorted by the Norwegian and French aircraft.

The flights were carried out according to an approved plan, and in strict compliance with international regulations of the use of airspace above neutral waters, without violating other countries’ borders, Klimov added.

In November 2014, Nato revealed that its member states scrambled their jets more than 400 times to intercept Russian Military flights near their territories during that year, as reported by CNN.

Image: RAF Typhoons escorted Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers until they left the UK flight information region. Photo: courtesy of RAF / MOD Crown Copyright 2015.