Typhoon pilots from RAF Lossiemouth have been praised by the defence secretary after they were involved in two separate incidents with Russian aircraft on Thursday.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the jets from Moray were involved in monitoring two Russian Bear maritime patrol aircraft.
The Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon crew, assisted by a Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton, intercepted the foreign planes approaching the international airspace of the UK’s fellow NATO Allies and escorted them away.
Meanwhile, Typhoons were also deployed on a NATO Baltic Air Policing mission scrambled from Amari airbase to intercept a Russian TU-142 ‘Bear’ Bomber and two Flanker fighter aircraft flying close to Estonian airspace.
The Lossiemouth Typhoons handed the escort over to Finish and Swedish QRA aircraft, but were then asked to return to maintain the escort of the TU-142 as it passed close to NATO airspace. The “Bear” had been joined by two Russian SU-30 ‘Flanker’ fighters.
Defence officials say the incidents were routine and were completed in international airspace throughout.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Every day certain states are determined to push international norms and to test the UK’s resolve. The threats to the international rules-based system are on many fronts.
“The RAF is well equipped to stand sentry alongside our allies on the UK’s and Europe’s borders. I am grateful they are there 24/7 to uphold the UK’s commitment to our security.”
A Typhoon pilot from XI (Fighter) Squadron who was conducting QRA duty when the scramble was called said: “We were scrambled to intercept a Russian TU-142 aircraft, routing west close to Estonian airspace.
“We then handed over the escort to our Finish and Swedish partners, as the aircraft continued west. We were then tasked to re-intercept and escort the TU-142 ‘Bear’ which has since been joined by two SU-30 ‘Flanker’’.
“These Russian aircraft transiting the Baltic region were not on a recognised flight plan or communicating with air traffic control. The intercept was uneventful and conducted in a professional manner throughout.”
The RAF routinely identify, intercept and escort Russian aircraft that transit international airspace. The RAF Typhoon and Voyager aircraft are held at a state of readiness every day, supported by engineering and airspace management personnel.