UK & World News

  • 24 April 2014, 8:53

RAF Jet Chases Russian Planes Away From UK

Two Russian bombers which flew close to UK airspace have been chased away by an RAF jet fighter.

The aircraft, believed to be Tupolev Tu-95 Bears, were spotted off the coast of northeast Scotland.

They were turned away from Britain when a Typhoon fighter was scrambled from RAF Leuchars in Fife.

Aircrew stationed at the base are on standby to intercept unidentified aircraft at a moment's notice.

Dutch fighter jets were also dispatched on Wednesday when the two Russian planes entered their airspace.

A pair of Dutch F-16 jets intercepted the Tu-95s at about 4pm after they strayed half a mile into the country's territory.

The incidents come amid heightened international tensions over the situation in Ukraine, following the annexation of Crimea by Russia last month.

It also follows the arrival of a Russian warship, the Vice Admiral Kulakov, in waters off the coast of Britain.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the vessel was met by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon, which is "keeping an eye" on the ship's movement.

Sky's Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall said foreign planes often fly close to UK airspace, with eight similar incidents reported in 2013.

"The RAF Typhoon is one of Britain's quick reaction aircraft and would have gone up, made contact with the Russian planes and ensured they did not plan to fly into British airspace," he said.

"These sorts of events happen quite regularly and that maybe surprising for some people.

"It's all about testing defences and seeing exactly what your 'enemy' is capable of."

The two Russian planes were escorted by the Typhoon, as well as military aircraft from the Netherlands and Denmark, until they flew off towards Scandinavia.

The aircraft - turboprop-powered bombers which also conduct airborne surveillance - have been in service for more than 50 years.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "The Russian military aircraft remained in international airspace at all times and they are perfectly entitled to do so.

"Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation."

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