Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft from at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby were scrambled today to intercept Russian bombers as they entered the UK’s area of interest.

What is the difference between the UK area of interest and UK sovereign airspace?

Sovereign airspace is that airspace above the territory of a nation and the area of interest includes international airspace for which a country is responsible in some way, such as provision of air traffic control services.

The RAF routinely identify, intercept and escort Russian aircraft that transit international airspace within proximity to the UK’s area of interest.

Image Crown Copyright 2020

The Typhoons were supported by Voyager tankers from RAF Brize Norton, Weapons Controllers from RAF Boulmer and Air Traffic Controllers from RAF Swanwick.

“At no point did these aircraft enter UK sovereign airspace. The Russian aircraft were shadowed by our Typhoons, along with QRA aircraft from our NATO partners in Norway and France.”

An RAF spokesperson said:

“This was a routine response to Russian aircraft approaching UK air space and was coordinated with several other NATO allies.”

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fen tiger

Thought the Bears had retired or is that a stock photo.?


like B52s they continue to be modernised & are expected to still be in service in 2040 …


Nah, they’re the go to for the Russians for this type of thing.


Nope, the Bears are still very active and are undergoing a modernisation program that includes a new primary surface search radar, new engines, new nav gear, new mission systems and changes to the bomb bay and underwing hard points for the Kh101/102 cruise missiles.


We need a few Vulcan IIs to do the same back to them. The traffic is all one way.


Whats the point, the Bears wouldn’t last 10 minutes in a real war. They basically just fly about on long patrols to waste everyone’s time.

James Fennell

ELINT is the point.


Correct and to measure QRA reaction times. The Bear has a truly massive radar cross section, bigger than the B52’s. This is mostly due to its contra-rotating propellers, that generate a unique doppler signature, making the aircraft easy to identify. What the article does not say is that the majority of intercepts are where the Bear flies down the West coast of Norway, then between Iceland and the Shetlands. What it leaves out is how the aircraft fly past the North of Iceland and come in from the West approaching Ireland’s west coast. Hence the supposed overfly agreement with Ireland.… Read more »

Steve R

I disagree, it would be a waste of money, using up fuel and costing spare parts and maintenance for no real purpose except being an annoyance to Russian aor force. Let them waste their money flying over here just to be turned back by our Typhoons.

Also when they fly here our pilots have a great deal of discipline and wouldn’t fire unless they no choice. I’d be concerned about any of our aircrews paying a friendly visit over Russian airspace, in case of Russian crews of S400 etc with potentially itchy trigger fingers.

James Fennell

The RAF’s Airseekers do this for the UK. Very hush hush though.

Daniele Mandelli

Exactly James. This has worked both ways for decades.


Wake up, we have the steath fighers/ bombers. All thus same old same old is becoming tiresome.

Paul T

Im surprised an opportunity hasn’t arisen for an F35b to pop up off one wing of a Bear with a Typhoon off the other one.Yes obviously they are not QRA tasked but it would make for a good PR picture.


Its not an interceptor is it?

Paul T

Err – It is supposed to be when it Flies off the QE Carriers,thats one of its main roles !.

Paul T

I’m sure that opportunity will come with Chinese aircraft next year!


Rubbish,,, the UK is the 5th richest nation on the planet and its economy twice the size of Russias and they seem to have no worries with keeping over 7,000 nuclear missiles in their budget .The UK is major NATO player which is needed to keep Putin Russias anti west stance in check. Dominic Cummings seems to be a new member the Russian useful idiot club and will probably come in with wrecking ball that would suite Putin very well ,Cummings like your views are very dangerous and is good example of people forgetting what world was like before a… Read more »


Most of what Cummings said about the MOD was been right, they have pissed away billions on failed procurement contracts, Fres and Nimrod are the two first, I actually think the carriers are good value. I do think F35B will be cut though to between 72 and 96 airframes. I think there will need to be an additional order of Typhoon as the follow on Saudi order looks dead and we need to maintain the skills for when we eventually produce tempest. I think Warrior LEP is at risk of being scrapped with additional boxer units being ordered, thats certainly… Read more »


I certainly agree with cutting F35B numbers. We just need enough to field a full carrier air wing, one reserve and a few for ground based ops. 138 is excessive and was a number procured when F35’s weren’t going to cost more than a typhoon each. Maybe supplement a few A variants for the RAF in the future, though it’s wishful thinking.


Glad we have you Brits on our side, regardless of what weapons systems you have or don’t have.

Robert Blay

You are correct about Dominic Cummings. He wants to see the procurement process improved and become much more efficient with the money provided, somthing many commentators on this site argue for. Long term planning for ship building ect, not building small numbers of very expensive vessels, which then face the inevitable delays and cost over runs.


They have the money to spend on defence because they definitely don’t spend it elsewhere…dreary (mercifully short) life for your average russian Joe because the standard of living across there is dogs**t.


What’s the white thing on the belly of the aircraft?


I think its one of the anti submarine variants, one type has an underbelly radar and another has a an underbelly winch and trailing antenna to allow communication with submerged submarines.


Looks like new tech

James Fennell

ELINT equipment (electronic intelligence gathering). Checking out our radars.


I am old enough to remember pics of the same Russian Bear being intercepted by Lightning, Phantom, Tornado F2 and now the magnificent Typhoon. I am trying to remember what the RAF’s stock interceptor was prior to the Lightning-again without Googling. I think it would have been the Hunter or Javelin? As to the possibility of the UK’s F 35 buy being cut back, I wonder if this might adversely affect our standing as the Tier One partner and future work. I know the facilities are already in place in various parts of the world for the build and maintenance… Read more »


..same Russian Bear-obviously mean the type and not the individual airframe.. 🙂


Some of the airframes have been in service for 70 odd years so it might well have been the same airframe lol.

Steve Salt

The beautiful Hunter and supersonic Javelin served togather for a time in the interceptor role until the Lightning was introduced.

Alan Reid

Hi Steve, The Javelin was classed as subsonic, indeed, the thick wing made its performance decidedly pedestrian. It was also yet another example of a disappointingly short-ranged RAF fighter – often our Achilles heel.
But British industry had another crack at the concept during the 1970s, and in the Tornado F3, produced a much more impressive interceptor.

Steve Salt

Hi Alan, I think that’s a legacy of my Dad guilding the lilly as he flew Javelins on 85 and 5 squadrons in the 60s, often told me they went supersonic! Diving maybe ?

Alan Reid

Hi Steve, How marvellous that your old Dad flew the Javelin. It was an impressive looking aircraft.
Yes – I think supersonic in the dive, like the Hunter.
I was checking the performance of the Javelin on Wikipedia, the initial rate of climb (a measure of acceleration) is given as 5,400 feet/min. Compare that with its replacement, the English Electric Lightning, with an initial climb rate of 50, 000 feet/min!
What a quantum leap in performance; it gives you some idea of the sensational impact the Warton produced jet had on the RAF and the public.


Yes, but long range intercepts over the N Sea or Faroes/Iceland gap? I don’t think those started until Lighting/Phantom. I don’t think AAR was even used by RAF before the Lightning interceptor? I may be wrong!

Alan Reid

Hi Julian, Some late-model Javelins had a refuelling probe fitted – and provision for external fuel tanks.


“Create a defence force and cut back on offensive warfare”. And that is a very civilian way of looking at an issue. Any country which only has a defensive capability will LOSE EVERY TIME! Without an offensive capability, you are on a back foot, the enemy will get to choose the ground, the timings and the location, every single time. All a defensive force can do will be to react, to movement and manoeuvre of an enemies choosing, we may stop a thrust, or two, but eventualy the defensive force will lose. A balanced force requires an offensive capabilitity, which… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I would not bother mate. It falls on deaf ears, and blind eyes. He does it to provoke.

I used to respond to debunk every time now, i have retired, with this one at least.


Your right mate, but sometimes can’t resist trying to assist those less fortunate, and more clueless than the average Joe! Cheers mate.

Meirion X

Troll H, is a modern day Lord Ho, Ho!


Brilliant, everything you’ve stated is wrong. It’s like you’re deliberately baiting people to see their reactions – He pulls the pin and tosses in the grenade! Let’s start with the F35 program. There is a reason the Government have stated that we receive 138 F35s, its written in the Tier 1 partnership contract. So if we pull the number not only will we be faced by a fine, but we loose the partnership agreement. The contract states 138 F35 aircraft, it does not state which model, so it could be a mix of A’s and B’s. The Hawk could not… Read more »


As part of tempest I often think could we create 2 aircraft. A Trainer to replace the hawk similar to the grippen using the same engine which will then go for the larger tempest longer range reuse tech to make 2 types.

Meirion X

I think Ireland is cheating In a way, to have the benefit of A low corporate tax economy without the expense of defence.
All those tech companies based there are vulnerable to spying ops. by Russia and China, I would say so!

Meirion X

I forgot to say, Ireland does have a few OPV’s

Ireland needs to procure some SAAB Gripen E/F’s, they be cheaper enough for them to run.


I would like the RAF to do the simple, off the shelf upgrade to T1 Typhoon, that Italy & Spain have done.


John……what capacity would that add?


Unusual to send 6 Jets to intercept maybe more to this?

Robert Blay

It’s so 2 aircraft can continuously monitor the bears, while the other take on fuel from the Voyager. The Bears often stay on station for over 2 hours, and the Typhoons are along way from Coningsby and Lossie. They also need to keep the tanks topped up in case of another tasking while airborne. The Typhoon has excellent endurance, particularly when at high altitude, those EJ200’s sip fuel at a very low rate when in the upper air. 👍


I was also thinking 6 (3 pairs) was kinda high to intercept 2 jets, considering we normally only send 1 jet. I suspect it’s because the Russians were spying on the NATO navy drills and they wanted them out of the way.

Meirion X

I think It has touch the nerve of Troll H also!


where does it say 6 jets? would that include aircraft from the other air forces?


The Norwegians released more info than the RAF. The RAF didn’t even confirm how many russian jets were involved.


So Harold, if you were defence secretary, what would you do with these aircraft, ignore them? And you say focus on a defence Force. Isn’t RAF QRA an air defence force? What is your point?

Meirion X


So Your Friend Putin has Got a Modern Day Kim Philby in A High Place??

You FFing lying Kremlin Troll!!
What Utter Trash you Sprout!

Just Lies, Lies, Lies!!


You don’t need to enter uk airspace to strike within it… you just need to get close enough to drop long range air launched cruise missiles. They fly these routes to remind us they have that capability and we intercept to show we can see them coming and get out to them quickly. We used to have hawks for homeland air defence but Stand off weapons makes them obsolete, you need something much quicker if you need to go out to intercept Reactively or have something with long endurance that can stay on station out there all the time. A… Read more »


for Hawk to be remotely credible, it would need to be the T2 version anyway – by the time you’ve spent the money on it to include the right ordnance, you probably may as well just have Typhoon – especially considering Hawk will still be slow with short range


“What are the Russians doing wrong? They haven’t entered the UK air space”

At a guess, not squawking so a danger to themselves and all other air traffic in the vicinity. Ergo the need to escort them with something that is squawking.

Phil Chadwick

A certain very well known news channel reported that, as well as three pairs of Typhoons, three pairs of Tornado’s were also scrambled!!!! I am sure I was not the only person who swiftly reminded them that the Tornado retired from RAF service a year ago … They changed it soon afterwards…