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‘It’s been quite a year’: RAF Lossiemouth Typhoons secure the skies from Russian intruders

Typhoon landing at RAF Lossiemouth
Typhoons at RAF Lossiemouth always stand ready to respond to potential intruders. Photo: DCT Media

RAF Typhoons were scrambled four times during 2021 to secure the skies from potential Russian intruders.

Jets maintain a constant watch over the UK’s borders from possible threats approaching the country’s airspace.

Specialist crews stand ready 24/7 over the Christmas and New Year period at RAF Lossiemouth to launch QRA (quick reaction alert) missions.

The operation requires personnel being on-call and aircraft always being prepared to take off with a moment’s notice.

RAF Losiemouth crews secure the skies

Figures published by the Ministry of Defence show RAF Typhoons from Lossiemouth and Coningsby in Lincolnshire were scrambled a total of 10 times in 2021.

Only four of the QRA launches were in response to Russian aircraft while the other six were in response to other planes, which may not have been transmitting an identification signal or communicating with air traffic controllers.

In August, RAF Lossiemouth Typhoons crews were scrambled to secure the skies twice in just four days.

On the first occasion, pilots got close enough to shadow and photograph Russian anti-submarine aircraft as they moved through Nato airspace.

On the second occasion, the intruders in the UK’s area of interest turned away before they were intercepted.

The number of scrambles in response to Russian aircraft is the second lowest in the last 10 years – with only the three in 2017 being lower.

However, RAF officials have consistently warned that the North Atlantic remains a contested environment.

UK and US Poseidon P-8 submarine-hunters are consistently dispatched from RAF Lossiemouth to search for hidden threats lurking beneath the waves.

RAF crews at home and overseas

While RAF crews have maintained a constant watch over skies at home, personnel have also been operating overseas.

Air crews from RAF Lossiemouth remain in Cyprus as part of the UK’s operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

A Typhoon jet in a hanger.
RAF Lossiemouth Typhoons stand ready to secure the skies. Photo: Jason Hedges/DCT Media

Meanwhile, Typhoon jets operated in Romania earlier this year to defend Eastern European skies from Russian intruders.

And RAF Lossiemouth personnel have also joined nationwide fight against coronavirus while also assisting Moray communities hit by heavy snow.

Group Captain Chris Layden, station commander of RAF Lossiemouth, said: “It’s been quite a year. I realise it’s been a hard year at times, but it’s also been a year where we have done amazing things together.

Group Captain Chris Layden stands to attention in front of a Typhoon.
Group Captain Chris Layden, station commander of RAF Lossiemouth. Photo: Jason Hedges/DCT Media

“We have secured the skies and seas across the UK non-stop, we have operated globally to look after the security of the people of this country.

“And we have operated at home at a higher rate than I have seen for many years to protect the people of the UK from a range of threats, not just of security, but of course from coronavirus and some pretty harsh winter weather.”

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