The Royal Air Force (RAF) announced the interception of a Russian Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft, known by the Nato code name as a ‘Bear-F’, which occurred on 30 April 2023.

The Tu-142 approached from the north-east and flew in international airspace over the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic Ocean. At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK sovereign airspace.

Nato response

Norwegian F-35A fighter aircraft alongside a contingent of RAF Typhoons launched from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland escorted and monitoried the Russian aircraft patrolling the maritime region.

Additional air-to-air refuelling support was provided by an RAF Viyager aircraft, which launched from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. As well as this, command and control from the National Air and Space operations Centre at RAF High Wycombe and the Air Surveillance and Control System at RAF Boulmer also supported the joint Nato response.

Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoons are launched to intercept unidentified aircraft flying in the UK’s area of interest. QRA procedures entail RAF aircraft and crews being held at continuous high readiness 24/7, so that they can take off within minutes to protect UK sovereign airspace, should it be required.

One of the British Typhoon pilots that carried out the interception said: “Today’s scramble demonstrated the close working relationships we have with our Nato colleagues. 

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“After scrambling to intercept the Russian aircraft, we were in close contact with RAF Battlespace Managers, who directed us towards the aircraft and relayed orders throughout, ensuring we could confirm where they were and what they were doing at all times.”

The Russian state-owned news agency Tass relayed a response from the Russian Embassy in London stating it “has on several occasions pointed out that the numerous sorties of UK aircraft used to intercept Russian planes operating in international airspace were an unjustified waste of resources.”

The news agency adds that the Russian diplomats claimed that these sorties “create additional risks for civilian air traffic.”