The U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) announced this week that it scrambled Typhoon jet fighters to intercept four Russian bombers that were approaching British airspace. The Typhoons are from the RAF’s Quick Reaction Alert base at RAF Lossiemouth in northeast Scotland. They intercepted two Tupolev Tu-95 Bear H long-range bombers accompanied by a pair of Tu-142 Bear F aircraft. “Subsequently, we intercepted and escorted four Russian Bear aircraft,” said an RAF spokesman, adding, “at no time did the Russian bombers enter U.K. sovereign airspace.”
The RAF is on record stating it responds to Russian military aircraft that infringe on the U.K.’s controlled zone of international airspace known as the Flight Information Region. The British air force points out that such Russian military aircraft often don’t communicate with air traffic control and can pose a hazard to regular air traffic in the area.
The British fighters were joined by an Airbus Voyager refueling tanker based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, which also monitored the encroaching Russian aircraft.
While not exactly “routine,” such intercepts are not uncommon, according to the RAF. Still, there is heightened concern in light of the ongoing Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border. Over the weekend, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The leaders discussed border tensions with Russia, and Johnson subsequently announced $120 million in new U.K. funding to support Ukraine and help defend its sovereignty.