Typhoon jets sortied from RAF Lossiemouth to monitor two Russian bombers approaching UK airspace.

The Russian Blackjack long-range bombers were not talking to air traffic control, making them a hazard to all other aviation, say the Ministry of Defence.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Once again the rapid reactions of our RAF have demonstrated how vital our Armed Forces are in protecting Britain.”

According to a release received in the last hour, the RAF worked closely with NATO partners to monitor the jets as they passed through a variety of international airspace before they were intercepted by the RAF over the North Sea.

The Ministry of Defence said in  a statement:

“Subsequently our fighters escorted the Russian Blackjacks north, out of the UK’s area of interest. At no time did the Russian bombers enter UK sovereign airspace.

RAF QRA was launched today because the Russian Military aircraft were not talking to air traffic agencies. The RAF routinely intercept, identify and escort Russian aircraft that transit international airspace within the UK’s area of interest and continue to be on call; 24/7, 365.”

51 COMMENTS

    • That would be a vast over reaction and a pointless escalation that could most likely mean needless loss of life. By all means escort them out and threaten that incursion into UK airspace will mean stronger measures will be used but to just shoot them down is madness.

      • My comment was slightly tongue in cheek. Quite a bit in fact.

        As noted lower in thread it is all one big piece of game play. Who can outplay the other.

        I would be intereted to know how often we go upto their airspace and how often we actually cross the line into it, and vice versa how ofte they do the same to us. If we are doing it less, we need to up our game.

        Still, if all else fails – shoot them down!

      • This is likely testing defenses and the pilots’ mettle as well as demonstrating both sides’ need for air force funding. On the other hand, bombers approaching sovereign airspace shouldn’t just get away with it. Halfway between shooting them down (which would be a meaningFUL waste of human life) and escorting them out would be forcing them on a delaying pattern until they had too little fuel to return home without mid air refueling, thus causing the pilots undue stress and wasting Russian resources. Making it too expensive to continue this sort of behavior would have the net effect of ending it without being egregious enough to warrant the escalation the Russians are likely gunning for.

  1. what about speaking Russian to them? Maybe they want to escape the tinpot regime, and give us a strategic bomber fleet you always dreamt of.

  2. (Chris H) Russian or not that is a beautiful aircraft. Just shows how they used TU-144 technology to create a supersonic bomber. And added swing wing for fun …

    Shame they didn’t pursue the Concorde bomber that was on the drawing boards. Double shame we never kept a Concorde flying which they could have done.

    • Sorry to harp-on about this (re previous topics/posts about a “UK/Commonwealth” strategic bomber), but I still think we could relatively quickly/affordably bash together something updated but based around Concorde’s fantastic engines and especially the air-intake design that gave a long-range “super-cruise” (i.e. without re-heat) at Mach 2 capability.

      • Affordably?? With our track record of delays and costs?

        I don’t think so. Just buy some B1 in a small squadron and be done with it.

      • A four-engined version of Tempest would be worth considering long term, but I agree with the comments made by Daniele Mandelli short term, “Just buy some B1 in a small squadron and be done with it.” A squadron of the latest EA-18G Growlers wouldn’t go amiss either.

  3. Exactly just a game letting them know they are there, testing response times and possibly signals/radar. The USAF and to a lesser extent NATO do this routinely to Russia and China. No doubt the same is happening under the oceans.

  4. We do the same to Russia. Always have & always will. We even overflew the USSR regularly throughout the cold war. It’s purely press distraction to label every passage of Russian aircraft or warship through international waters close to us as aggression. It keeps our QRF on ther toes.

    • Sense at last Frank.

      Too many on UKDJ follow the hysterics of the press and ignore the hypocrisy that the West do the same!
      In the Cold War SAC flew over the USSR, not just on its periphery.

      Imagine the reaction if s Russian aircraft did that..

      • (Chris H) Daniele – I agree with you and Frank that its all ‘in the game’ and I have no concerns as some very capable people are doing it (at least on the RAF side). Its well known air crews wave and photograph each other. Professional people just doing their job

        However I would clarify your use of the term ‘SAC’ as that covers a huge range of aircraft, commands and operations. I believe the only part of SAC to overfly Russia were RB-47s and RB-45s in the early 1950s. In fact more RB-45s, loaned to the RAF and painted in RAF colours, were flown by RAF crews than USAF crews and made some key discoveries. All this changed in 1955 when it was all handed over to the CIA and the U-2.

        Even under CIA control the RAF were called in to help Eisenhower’s concerns about ‘what if we get caught’ and Macmillan was happy to help out. Just as he would later help Kennedy out with fuelled and tooled Vulcans sitting on runways during the Cuba crisis. Initially 4 RAF pilots were drafted into the U-2 project and in total 9 RAF pilots up to Squadron Leader rank were drafted in during the ’50s and ’60s. Sadly one of the original 4 was killed in 1958 in Texas when his U-2 developed a fault. He was immediately replaced.

        It was an RAF pilot, Squadron Leader (later Wing Commander) Robert Robinson, who told the Yanks at Incirlik in 1960 where they were all based that May Day in Russia was not a good day to do sorties given higher levels of security but as always the Yanks ‘knew best’, they sent one out, Gary Powers was shot down and the RAF bunch had to ‘scarper’ quickly for a few months. However RAF pilots continued to be used and 2 were drafted in to the project in ’61 and 2 more in ’64. One, Sq Ldr Ivan “Chunky” Webster, even left the RAF at the end of his tour to join Lockheed Martin!

        But of course we never hear, let alone get any credit, from the Yanks about what the RAF did for them.

        i hope this is of interest and adds some context.

        • Morning Chris.

          Indeed it does, though I have read about those RAF flights and was just making a generalisation without detail.

          By SAC those RB47 flights over Siberia where foremost in my mind, and indirectly also the CIA U2 flights, of which Gary Powers was most famous, which came later.

          In my mind I also include the constant periphery flights of an aircraft we now have ourselves, the Rivet Joint, which has been sniffing around the periphery of the USSR and now Russia for decades, especially off the Kola Peninsula, the Baltic, the Bering Straight, and off the Kamachatka Peninsula in the far east, doing telemetry work.

          We could add the D21 Drone flights over PRC and of course the SR71 missions out of Mildenhall too.

          Despite the Russian motives, it irritates me sometimes the hypocrisy of some of the comments here about Russia doing this sort of stuff when we have done, and probably continue to do, far worse the other way.

          It is all necessary and understandable that opposing sides do this stuff.

          On another subject, sad to see the result in Salzburg, and even sadder to see Remoaners actually applauding it. I hope it emboldens the PM to walk away calling the EU’s bluff, as I don’t recall my ballot paper saying a Brexit was conditional on getting a deal.
          They will suffer far more and will soon come running.

          • (Chris H) Daniele – I fear you are drawing me off topic and into Brexit topics. But I can’t resist!

            If any one event shows the impossibility of doing business with EU political ideologues in Brussels then Salzburg was it. What people forget in the media feeding frenzy of ‘how long will she last’ is that we are STILL, 18 months in, discussing the Withdrawal Treaty. The EU refuse to even discuss our future relationship. Which totally contravenes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and I quote:
            ” the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union”

            But no. The EU wanted money first then withdrawal and then sometime never the future deal. So we agreed to pay £39 Bn, we agreed most of the Withdrawal but then suddenly Ireland was an ‘issue’. And has been the logjam ever since when its a really simple thing: We had the CTA since 1923 and we could re-instate it except the EU wants to meddle in UK domestic affairs and create a border down the Irish Sea. An impossible to contemplate idea for any UK Government!

            And the future deal? well ‘Chequers’ was all about that and nothing else (although it helped the Irish issue). And Macron, Tusk and Barnier slammed a hatchet through it. With less than 6 months to go the EU refuse to discuss the future deal. In breach of Article 50.

            Theresa May has handled this matter with a determination I find admirable. She has had to fight on 4 sides to deliver what the UK Electorate voted for – A Remoaner Parliament, staunch Brexiteers and staunch Remainers in her own party and the Labour party seeking to make party political capital at every twist and turn. (Shameful IMHO). ‘Chequers’ was a compromise to meet most of everyone’s wishes and she took a huge political risk. And the EU have slapped it down and humiliated a British Prime Minister, and therefore the British people, in public. BASTARDS!

            She must now take a very hard stance against the EU, instruct Raab to cease all discussions with Barnier and walk away. She has no choice now and people will support her. She and we have been shabbily treated again just as Cameron was treated shabbily and look where that ended. She has a golden chance at her Party Conference next week to say ‘I tried compromise but the EU will not even discuss a future deal. We are done talking.’ So:
            * No £39 Bn
            * We offer the Irish the CTA that worked for 50 years take it or leave it but we won’t erect any border posts
            * We trade under WTO terms as we trade 60% of our exports with the rest of the world
            * We erect whatever tariffs the EU erects against us against them and earn an extra £10 Bn a year
            * We immediately start signing our own Free Trade deals with anyone we wish to
            * We will leave the EU as directed under British Law on March 29th 2019. Free at last

            As the EU always says: ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. Well everything has not even been discussed so nothing has been agreed. We have 6 months to let industry adjust. They have faced worse and come through. And we have £39 Bn in the kitty from what we won’t pay to the EU to help fund industry and our economy to change.

          • Danielle you need to see it from the EU perspective. It cannot cut the uk a good deal as it undermines the rules the others have to play by. It would unravel if member states thought they could not abide by the bits they didn’t like or could blackmail one another with threats if leaving. Yes brexit will hurt the EU, that’s why they don’t want it, but not as much as it will hurt the UK. The destruction and shame of the world wars cast a long shadow in Europe. Continentals can’t bear any risk to the breaking the cooperative EU structure. Leaving is madness. We have short memories. We will all come to regret it.

          • Perceptions count, especially to our perceived enemies, and due to the Brexit mess we have become a laughing stock… a pushover!

            May has to go and will eventually, but who the hell do we replace her with?

          • Hi Chris

            “Chequers’ was a compromise to meet most of everyone’s wishes and she took a huge political risk. And the EU have slapped it down and humiliated a British Prime Minister, and therefore the British people, in public. BASTARDS!”

            Very emotive language; but I think all the EU has stated is that it doesn’t like the plan – and in that respect it is in agreement with the leading Brexiteers of the Conservative Party!

            We have taken the decision to leave the EU, but rage against Brussels because it isn’t keen to cut us a beneficial deal and mitigate the economic risks created by our own actions. You couldn’t make this up!

            I think the country is in a muddle; if we want the benefits of EU membership, then we should stay in the EU!

            I look forward to the next instalment of the rollercoaster!

            Anyway back to spy-flights! Much less controversial!

          • (Chris H) Anthony D, Antidote & Alan Reid – You 3 apparently, as is entirely your right, view this from the ‘Remainer’ perspective where we Brexiteers are always wrong and the EU is always right. Frankly I don’t understand, as is my right, why UK citizens are so enamored by a foreign political construct that exists on the back of a Ponzi Scheme of 6 paying while 22 take out but ‘we are all equal’. But apparently people like Germany and France are a bit ‘more equal than us’. How on earth can Malta carry the same clout as the UK which pays in £13 Bn a year plus EU Tariff and VAT revenue? And you don’t understand why the EU invented QMV? The ‘Animal Farm’ analogy is both deliberate and apt.

            To say the EU are agreeing with extreme wing of Brexiteers like Johnson and JRM is some flight of fancy. Those Brexiteers do not like ‘Chequers’ because it is a compromise too far in their view. The EU dislike it because it does not compromise enough. They share a dislike but for opposing reasons! *Reality Check Moment*

            Can you all not see that the EU have constructed these so called ‘negotiations’ totally in breach of how we, as the leaving state, understood Article 50 would dictate proceedings. There has been NO discussion on our ‘future relationship’ as directed by that Article of the Lisbon Treaty. Indeed Galileo, Airbus / Dassault and various threats over other co-operative arrangements demonstrates the EU’s aggressive refusal. But we have politely gone along with their agenda, agreed to pay £39 Bn and agreed to all bar the Irish proposals in the Withdrawal Agreement. Then when we table our ‘Future Relationship’ proposals we see the EU for what it is. Instead of keeping disagreements and discussions within the negotiating teams in Brussels we had Macron calling us liars, Tusk insulting a British Prime Minister on twitter and then smashing a hatchet through ‘Chequers’ in public. Juncker of course sat pissed as a fart totally confused but nodding as instructed. Photographs show how the men backslapping each other while turning their backs on Theresa May. A British PM was publicly ambushed and humiliated and in that act so were we the British people. We deserve better having been the ONLY continual funding country since entry in ’73 and the second largest contributor. But then the EU have a short attention span. But you Remainers seem to rejoice in that disgraceful behaviour which I find baffling. Do not confuse your domestic political leanings with what is going on. The referendum had nothing to do with Party Politics and neither does Brexit. Remember this woman is batting for the UK against 4 huge entrenched political forces as I described above. 3 of which are giving the finger to the UK electorate and ignoring the results of the last GE when 80% voted for the two parties whose manifestos supported Brexit.

            For those raising WWII maybe you forget it was the ‘Europeans’ who now dominate the EU that started every war in Europe in the last century. And it was the British who kept the flame of freedom burning in WWII and eventually enabled their liberation with help from the USA. We owe them NOTHING on that score.

            and what do we want that is so difficult for the EU and that will ‘undermine the SM’? We want no border in Ireland (as do the Irish), no border down the Irish Sea splitting the UK, a tariff free trade deal to allow fast movement of Goods and a regulated market for Services (something that does not exist within the EU as there is NO ‘single Market’ in Services. No the reason the EU are scared of offering us what is an obvious deal is that they need to frighten current member states from following us out.

            And yes a ‘No Deal’ will hurt us but we will be OK. And remember we run a £100 Bn annual deficit in Goods trade with the EU, including 800,000 cars a year, so how can it hurt us more? After all over 60% of our exports move globally under WTO terms. It takes seconds to clear WTO traded containers arriving in Felixstowe, Liverpool, Tilbury, Southampton and Thamesport. Honda and Toyota ship parts from Japan within their JIT / KANBAN systems. So why not from Belgium or Germany?

            When an organisation has to force or frighten people to stay by abusing and making an example of the one that is leaving then it is fundamentally corrupt. By the way: when did you all vote to join the EU and all its stands for? Because I remember voting to remain in the EEC but I must have missed the EU one.

          • Chris H – No, you have me completely wrong. I am 100% for leave. The EU is a sinking ship, and we are the first to jump ship and swim to safety. The others may well drown.

          • Chris and co. Fifty million dead. Twenty one million refugees. One trillion dollars wasted. Unquantifiable suffering. Never, ever again. I can take a bit of migration, some sovereignty pooling, the occasion tiff with the french. We were part of building something really special, something that could change the brutal history of our continent. We’ve all lost sight of the bigger picture. A picture users of this site should be far more cognisant of.

          • AD – Maybe you can take some sovereignty pooling, but others can’t and simpy don’t want to. I see the EU as more of a threat to starting another WW than if the EU didn’t exist. The EU isn’t something special (anymore), it is something that has morphed into a political entity run by unelected bureaucrats for whom power has gone to their heads.

            Nuclear weapons are a much safer bet of there not being another war in Europe on the scale of WW1 and WW2.

            As it stands, Germany is the major threat to stability in Europe out of the EU countries; reliant on gas from Russia, allowing uncontrolled mass immigration, and pushing it’s weight around in the EU.

          • (Chris H) Anthony D – I fully take on board the emotion of ‘never again’ but forgive me: We never started any of those European wars. No we had to sacrifice our economic future and 1% of our population undoing what those in Europe had done. And that was just WWII. We sacrificed a huge global position, endured years of destruction and loss of life and ended up 50 years in debt to the Yanks. And yet you seem to blame us? Our leaving will not (as Remainers forecast) cause WWIII. Our being outside never caused WWI or WWII either. So why play that purely emotional argument? You really think if France went to war with Germany our being in the EU would deter them?

            We haven’t lost a ‘some’ of Sovereignty we have lost TOTAL Sovereignty – we cannot negotiate our own trade deals, we cannot control our borders, we cannot write all our own laws and we cannot argue / dismiss laws sent from the EU. We also cannot control all of our money and taxation given we pay huge amounts to the EU in ‘contributions’, Eu External Tariff and VAT and we cannot even vary rates of VAT.

            How can you possibly call 3.5 million immigrants (and counting) from the EU alone as a ‘bit of migration’? Even now we have to find extra jobs, infrastructure, homes, education and health services for a city the size of Newcastle on Tyne every year. The sudden arrival of different age groups rather than the progressive change by normal childbirth means schools are totally overcome with kids unable to speak English appearing in every year group. And how does a country plan economically for such growth when we don’t know who they are, their ages, their skills or their health?

            And please don’t peddle the myth the EU is some wonderfully creative movement whose purpose is the benefit of mankind. Wonderful it isn’t. The only thing the EU was building was a power base for the unelected, two parliament buildings to appease the French, an Anthem, a blue flag, a currency (run by the Germans for their benefit) and now an Army. Our only influence was we were the second largest contributor. After that we were ignored as Cameron found out and why we voted to Leave. The EU is an inward looking protectionist cartel based on a Ponzi scheme of funding by a few for a supporting majority.

            And NO Anthony us leavers very much have the bigger picture in mind. We see life outside the claustrophobic EU that dictates every part of our daily lives on the pretext of trade. We had a better deal with the EEC. Not that we were asked about the EU of course. We see a global Britain carving its own way in the world for good of bad. And I think it will be better than being in the EU. I will no longer be governed by unelected bureaucrats who despise my country and yet demand huge amounts of our hard earned.

    • One could even go further and portray these activities as helpful and friendly gestures. At least for the UK if we didn’t have this sort of Russian activity going on I can easily imagine some bean counters in the MoD clamping down and down on live flight hours in order to save fuel and airframe hours such that our pilots hardly ever actually got off the ground. At least this stuff ensures that our pilots and ground staff get real life practice on a fairly regular basis.

    • On the further subject of RAF Cold War spy-flights, apart from the epic RB-45 missions during 1952 & 1954, the EE Canberra was also doing some rather intriguing “snooping” about over missile test sites in the southern USSR.
      I’m sure I’ve seen a TV-interview with a retired Soviet radar operator, and he stated up to 20 incursions. If so, the most mysterious was probably the long-range fight in August 1953 to Kapustin Yar. A good link below, if anyone is interested.
      http://www.spyflight.co.uk/yar.htm

  5. Just curious as to what NATO flies near Russian/Chinese airspace? Not questioning it, I’d just like to know what kind of aircraft are used.

    • Partially see above.

      Off my head, and just the US and UK.

      RC 135 Rivet Joint.
      RC 135 Cobra Ball.
      P3’s in the South China Sea and around Vladivostok.
      RN and USN Submarines. ( Yes I know they do not fly! )
      Nimrod R1’s previously, especially over the Baltic.
      SR 71 previously.
      No doubt all sorts of classified UAV and Stealth recc aircraft now.

      Others can no doubt add more detail.

        • Nonsense. Everyone contributes where they can.

          I’m clueless with all the tech stuff described by people with actual hands on experience, in subjects you won’t find me commenting on as I’d have no place to.

          This forum is open to all with an active interest, from current and ex professionals to researchers like myself to the mere curious with an opinion.

          Nothing to excuse Steve M.

  6. Sorry Chris, I didn’t mean to imply GB at fault, it’s more that we inevitably get drawn in and have a self interested role in keeping Europe peaceful and stable going forward.

    In terms of sovereignty, we have complete control of defence, foreign policy and monetary policy while being in. Trade wise, it gives us frictionless access to 500m of the world’s wealthiest consumers, with onward trade deals with 60 other countries. It’s also easier to get a good deal working as a market of 500m and 28 states. On net contribution is worth it on my mind.

    The commission is appointed by the member states, it answers to the parliament of directly elected representatives and the council of ministers from the member states. Any further integration is agreed by the Europe council, the head of government of the member states. Ironically the structures, especially the court, mean we get a level playing field in Europe and we can’t face unfair competition or the breaking.

    We get to travel, study, work and live anywhere in Europe. While our seasonal fruit gets picked by Romanians, our struggling social care sector gets Portuguese nurses, our struggling NHS fully trained Spanish doctors, etc. Immigrants pay taxes that help fund public services and pensions. It is unquestionable that they add to economic growth.

    This century will be led by fully industrial continental powers, USA, China, India, EU. If rather be in one of these camps than out. I’ll take the trade offs. But I appreciate where you’re coming from and leave won. Let’s not blame the EU members for looking after their interests though, as we are doing.

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