RAF Typhoon fast jets have been scrambled to intercept Russian military aircraft operating in international airspace near the UK.

The Typhoons launched from RAF Lossiemouth on Saturday morning and were joined by an RAF Voyager from RAF Brize Norton, which provided air to air refuelling for the Typhoons.

“Two Russian Tu-142 Bear F aircraft were intercepted. These aircraft are used in the roles of Anti-Submarine Warfare and Maritime Patrol. It is essential that their movements are carefully monitored when operating so close to UK sovereign airspace.

Russian military aircraft operating within the UK Flight Information Region can act as a hazard to other air users, especially in this case as this was busy airspace over the North Sea. Often these aircraft do not squawk, which involves transmitting a code to identify the aircraft’s intentions, position, and altitude, or talk to UK air traffic controllers, causing other civilian airliners in the area to be re-routed to prevent aircraft from flying too close.

To deter this unprofessional activity and mitigate the risks associated with Russian military aircraft flying in this busy international airspace, RAF Typhoons shadowed the two Russian Bears and closely monitored their movements. Other NATO allies also launched their Quick Reaction Alert assets to assist in monitoring the Russian aircraft. Controllers from RAF Scampton coordinated the mission, liaising with NATO partners at the Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany.”

Pictured Russian aircraft BEAR F

An RAF spokesperson said:

“The QRA crew did a fantastic job, locating aircraft that were not easy to detect very quickly.  Again, the RAF has scrambled to defend the interests of the UK and NATO. It demonstrates the efficiency and resilience of our personnel, aircraft and systems.”

The Voyager tanker remained on mission to provide air-to-air refuelling for the Typhoons. If the situation develops or another potential threat emerges, the Voyager’s ability to refuel Typhoons mid-flight increases their endurance so that they can redeploy and intercept further targets.

The Royal Air Force add that the incident concluded by early afternoon, with the Typhoons returning to Lossiemouth and the Voyager returning to RAF Brize Norton.

Why does the UK intercept aircraft outside of its own airspace?

Andy Netherwood, a former Royal Air Force pilot, explained why this is done.

“A country’s sovereign airspace extends 12 miles beyond its coastline, sitting above its territorial waters.  However, there are 3 main reasons why unknown or potentially hostile aircraft must be intercepted before they reach this point.”

All airspace around the world is divided into Flight Information Regions (FIRs). Each FIR is managed by a controlling authority (in this case the UK) that has responsibility for ensuring that air traffic services are provided to the aircraft flying within it. UK Airspace is divided into three FIRs; London, Scottish and Shanwick Oceanic.

“The first is flight safety. Whilst sovereign airspace only extends 12 miles from the coastline, countries are responsible for ensuring the safety of civil aviation, including the provision of ATC services, within areas known as Flight Information Regions or FIRs. These extend well beyond the 12-mile limit. Russian long range aviation often transits the London and Scottish FIRs without filing a flight plan, talking to ATC or ‘squawking’ (operating their transponders).  This makes them effectively invisible to civilian ATC and is very dangerous as airliners are also flying through this airspace.  By shadowing Russian aircraft, the intercepting aircraft can show ATC where they are, allowing controllers to move airliners safely out of the way.

The second reason is because of the speed at which aircraft travel.  An aircraft flying at 600 knots will travel 12 miles in little over a minute.  Waiting until an unknown or hostile aircraft has entered sovereign airspace before intercepting is too late. It leaves insufficient time to safely carry out the intercept, visually identify the aircraft, provide all the required information back to decision-makers, and carry out any necessary action. Russian aircraft will normally be intercepted by the Norwegian Air Force and then handed over to RAF aircraft ensuring they are continually shadowed.”

A Typhoon is pictured intercepting a Russian aircraft in the UK FIR.

“The final reason is to demonstrate capability and intent. One of the reasons Russia carries out these exercises is to test NATO and the UK. A failure to intercept would be interpreted as weakness and encourage further probing.”

For more on why the RAF intercept aircraft around the UK, you can read the full piece.

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Captain P Wash

” Difficult to detect ” Ha, just stick yer head out the cockpit, you’ll hear them !

John Clark

Telling me Captain, ever heard one running up on the ground, absolutely deafening! As for the Russians turning off their transponders in densely used airspace, it’s childish and dangerously irresponsible. We should carry out a coordinated NATO response and tie there air defences up in knots from the Baltic to the Russian far east until they get the message! Great opportunity to do this next year with our carrier deployment, we can cruise along and occasionally fly F35’s close to Russian Airspace, force them to scramble Mig 31’s and bugger off before they arrive, ‘ testing response times’ I believe… Read more »

Captain P Wash

Putin, Richest person in the World, Apparently. Must work really hard.

Meirion X

Put sanctions on All the Pro Kremlin Oligarchs!


Well he has embezzled the entire Russian economy.


Merkel keeps him propped up by continuing to give him German money for their gas. Ugh

Meirion X

It seem P has Trump in his pocket as welI, I think!
A mysterious lender of $300M is propping up his businesses!


Germany and United Kingdom import equally much from Russia, 2.1% of their total imports. [Source: Trading Economics web site]

Peter Crisp

I remember when they were reporting about the radar capabilitiesd of the type 45 and saying they could spot a cricket ball going 2,000mph from 100 miles away.
I really hope Russia doesn’t decide to plough money into the 3,000mph cricket ball as we’d be really screwed.

Captain P Wash

Lol and Ha Ha mate……. It’s been one of my worries for years too…..

Charles Verrier

I think the Australians are working on that…

Captain P Wash

Bodyline ?

Bloke down the pub

I expect that in the event of a Bear Foxtrot colliding with a civilian airliner in airspace controlled by the UK, the Russians would blame our ATC rather than admit that their lack of communication was the root cause.

Andy P

Goddamn Commies….

Out of curiosity, does anyone know if we naws up the Russians in the same way ?? We do with surface and sub surface units, is it the same with aircraft ????

Last edited 4 months ago by Andy P
Captain P Wash

We as in Nato ? Yes. We as in UK? Yes. It’s an ongoing game.

John Clark

I think our RC135’s have the odd pleasure flight up around the Kola peninsula, the Baltic, Black Sea and other scenic areas of interest….

They certainly don’t stray into densely controlled Air corridors with their transponders off though….


Certainly used to back in the day when we had Nimrods, they used to go up around the corner, not sure if we do it now though? If not, then we may do again once we have the numbers of P8’s up and running.

Captain P Wash

We still do mate, not just P8’s though, we send up Typhoons that are forward based too although not in the same way.

Andy P

Aye, I know we ‘did’, wasn’t sure if it still happened. It just begs the question about why ‘we’ might get upset when ‘they’ do it but its a different story when its ‘us’. If you follow me… no good guys in this, we’re all a bunch of dicks really.

I’m not being a ‘hippy’ about it, just not one for double standards. If its going to continue (and it will) its not really going to help make us BFF’s and its not going to give anyone an ‘edge’, its just willy waving.

captain p wash

we don’t really get upset though. I view RT News most days, It’s amazing how different they view the World.


RT the voice of the kremlin not necessarily the people.


Something we actually agree with Dave


Wow that’s a first lol.


Yes, it’s been going on for decades, so can’t see why people get upset either! Wasn’t aware of the Typhoons going up to visit though, it’s a long drag even with tanker support,. Still, keeps us on our toes!!!

Captain P Wash

When “Forward Based” mate. Baltic Patrols for one.


Ah yes, was clearly still thinking old school! Ta for update.

Daniele Mandelli

Andy. This is why I don’t complain about these flights. The transponder thing excepted, which is out of order, we send spy planes to them as much as they do to us.
Any claim to the contrary is Hypocricy.

Alba Airborne

Lazy article, copy and paste straight out of the Daily Mail who always get hysterical about the same thing that’s been happening for 40 years.
One example in this is the ‘over the North Sea’ it was clear yesterday on any flight tracking app and numerous spotter social media that the Bears travelled down the Norwegian Sea and West Coast of Scotland so the Atlantic.


Alba Airborne…mmmmm who would want to call themselves after a low budget electrical appliance supplier? Harooooooooooold?


I’ve just read that the SNPs Blackford has said that they make a “steadfast” commitment to remove Trident if they make Scotland Independent.

Leaving aside the definition of how independent such a Scotland would be, it does leave one wondering how he proposes to defend Scotlands airspace from Russian Bears. Probably by leaving the runway lights on for them.

captain p wash

Scotland is a vast place, but sparsely populated in comparison to other parts of the UK, Apart from the Midges. I’m really not sure just why 5 million people would choose to leave this Union. it makes no sense at all really, but we are living in strange times. Minorities are taking over our hard earned Political and Free speaking lands. not sure about this but I do think that the Scottish economy does benefit hugely from the Defence Investment. not forgetting all the Oil Revenue though. Oh and Wiskey .

Andy P

“Scotland is a vast place, but sparsely populated in comparison to other parts of the UK, Apart from the Midges. I’m really not sure just why 5 million people would choose to leave this Union. it makes no sense at all really, but we are living in strange times. Minorities are taking over our hard earned Political and Free speaking lands. not sure about this but I do think that the Scottish economy does benefit hugely from the Defence Investment. not forgetting all the Oil Revenue though. Oh and Wiskey .” Top post mate, those ‘sweaties’ should just be grateful… Read more »

Peter Crisp

With these mostly being just single or at most a few aircraft testing our airspace it must be pretty unlikely that a real attack would start like that?
Surely an actual real first strike would be them just sending everything they had in one giant Zerg Rush to overwhelm the QRA?

Paul T

I think that would be a bit too Obvious,Russia in particular has found New ways of Fighting its Battles now.Id wager that the First Aggresive Action on the UK were it too ever Happen would be a Cyber Strike the likes of which we have never seen before.

Peter Crisp

At the moment all they need to do is claim they have some PS5’s in stock and the global internet will crumble.

Andy P

Brilliant. You’re probably right, there was a guy asking after them on a wild camping forum I’m on, seems to the the new ‘must have’.

Captain P Wash

For Wild Camping ? Personally I just take a tarp and fire lighter.

Andy P

Its not the same without an X box, you’re missing out. 😉

Captain P Wash

Ha, Next you’ll be suggesting taking a microwave and some ready meals. Nowt wrong with a bit of roadkill !

Daniele Mandelli

And Spetznatz too. Sadly there are enough useful idiots in the SWP and CND who would probably help them.

It’s said the Greenham Common women had infiltrators within their ranks too, so the “peace movement” ( west disarm at all costs leaving other nations tooled up ) would play into their hands.


Cyber would also go back to Mother Russia the same way. Post Salisbury the calls for a UK cyber strike where steadfastly ignored. Why tip your hand? You know the vulnerabilities. You know what you can do to the other persons systems. You keep your powder dry until its needed then…it all goes dark, the power goes off, the water stops flowing, the trains stop, the radio and TV stop working. Military comms and systems stop working… I can never understand why Russian “state backed” hackers do what they do. Hacking a Baltic states power grid just highlights vulnerabilities in… Read more »


Couldn’t agree more with this one. Why spar with them and let them figure us out. Just keep ourselves to ourselves then knock them clean out if we ever need to!


An (unfortunately) much easier way would be to fire cruise missiles, of which the UK is lacking a defence from.