Typhoon jets have again scrambled to monitor Russian aircraft in international airspace near the UK.

The launch is the second one in four days. Aircraft tracking account @air_intel followed the event, we recommend you follow them.

The jets launched yesterday too.

Russian aircraft intercepted off Scottish coast

How does Quick Reaction Alert tasking work?

According to the RAF website, the National Air Defence Operations Centre (NADOC) at RAF Air Command, High Wycombe collates information from radar sites across the UK and from civilian air traffic and intelligence agencies.

“They decide the threat is sufficient to scramble Typhoon jets and pass the order to to the Control and Reporting Centres (CRCs) at RAF Scampton and RAF Boulmer. The CRCs have direct contact with the pilots at RAF Lossiemouth and pass on the scramble message. Pilots at RAF Coningsby are ordered to standby in the cockpits of their Typhoons. RAF Coningsby is the second QRA station in the UK.”

Essentially, the jets and their crews are at a moments notice to launch and intercept unresponsive or dangerous aircraft.

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.

This happens often, doesn’t it?

No doubt you’ve probably noticed dozens of comments on our Facebook page saying something like, ‘nothing new’ or ‘This happens all the time it is not news!’.

While this is a common occurrence, we believe that its important for the public to know that. After all, if it isn’t reported frequently, how are people to know it’s a frequent occurrence and not something to worry about?

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Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

Those pesky ‘commies’ … while the fleet is away.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

They will chugg over here in there 60/70s crocks of crap, and be intercepted by one of the most highly capable airframes in the sky……bet their taking pics of the Typhoons to crack one off over when, if, they land safely….

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

🤣😄🇬🇧

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Ahh humour … I think.  🙂 

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

The best….

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

How old is a B52? Trigger’s broom maybe, but B52s do whatbis said on the fuselage… bomb the … out of things.

With the tag Airborne, did history not teach you to respect your enemy?

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  David

and when was the tu 95 flown? 1952. and also how many other advanced bombers can the Russians fall back on. non. while the us has the b1 and b2s and a countless amounts of f15s.

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

The Russian platform was disparaged. I merely suggested that the B52 was not much different. Is Puma not also approaching 50? And you do understand the reference to Trigger’s broom, right?

And at no point have spoken on the quality or quantity of Russian aviation; but is it worth remembering that you can still be killed by soneone armed with a bow and arrow? And the bow is how old?

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

1000 years old, but not if u doge the arrow. my point is russian aircrafts are so clunky and not well maintained that’s it is easy to counteract them with western ew capabilities and western air dominance platforms.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

I agree about the Bear’s age. However these aircraft are not likely to overfly enemy territory. They will be shot down far to easily, unless escorted by migs or sukhois. I think the purpose is to test response times. Gather data on radar type, frequency, range for both NATO ground control and intercept aircraft and to check on intercept aircraft arnaments. Useful data gathered they then trundle back to Russian airspace. I think these planes are reliable though. When did the last one crash because of poor maintenance? They are old workhorses like the B52 and will probably still be… Read more »

Julia
Julia
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

What do you base your opinion on Nate regarding maintenance etc?

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  David

if you think the Russians trump us in terms of airpower, then either you had one to many pints or u have been bewitched by the Russian Voldemort

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

I think we should have a very healthy respect for Russian aviation and their ground based air defence systems – systems that some in NATO think would make the Baltic pond a shooting gallery and deny not only sea based re-inforcement but also tgat by air.

Respect your enemy.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Good job we arent planning on invading Russia or have to worry about the SAM system they have if they come over to the UK then!

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Er, the Russians are ready to invade the Baltics if politics deems it so. Let’s see how allied pilots fancy their chances skirting Kaliningrad… but, you knew that, right?

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Dave u sure u aren’t a comedian?

Tony
Tony
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

I think a few Tomahawks would be landing on SAM sites in Kaliningrad before we started flying over it!

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

yes sure lets have respect for carrier based aircraft that still need drag chutes to slow down. and let also respect aircraft that were designed to slay close to Russian airspace and not stray 10-20 km from it. because that is totally better then having 5th gen stealth aircraft and the most capable multirole aircraft.

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

Of course. You’re right. No argument from this call sign.

How’re A Level results?

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

why did it turn from a conversation about Russia to a-level result?

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

Because he lost the argument.

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

If that’s for me, I’ve hav’n’t lost any argument; I have, however, just finished work.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  David

Since when are they the enemy? Had a war started I haven’t noticed?

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Oh, I hadn’t noticed they friends… hacking, intimidation of NATO allies, the odd novichok and polonium attacks on UK soil… sure, I wouldn’t think of them as friends.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Like I asked, you classed them as the enemy, therefore I asked when did the war start?

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Laugh all you like, but those planes will still be providing the Russians with a highly valuable capability for at least another 20 years.
They are an incredible aircraft and impressive multi purpose platform, to this day. I was just pondering how slick and in good condition the airframe in that image, alongside the Typhoon, appears?

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  Bluemoonday

Multi-purpose you say? still needs a 2 km run way to slow down safely, and that’s with a drag chute. another thing they don’t have laser guided bombs or any precision weapons. third of all they are 1960s airframe, so we con except a lot a Rader waves bouncing of them and a lot of rattling. and lastly there’s nothing fancy in their the bomb sight is out of date, radio is and even flight nav is out of date.

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

Do you think we thought the same about the Skyhawk? During the 1982 Falklands War, Argentina deployed 48 Skyhawk warplanes (26 A-4B, 12 A-4C and 10 A-4Q aircraft).[51] Armed with unguided bombs and lacking any electronic or missile self-defense, Argentine Air Force Skyhawks sank the Type 42 destroyer Coventry and inflicted a variety of damage on several others: Type 21 frigate Antelope (subsequently sunk during attempted disposal of unexploded bombs), RFA Sir Galahad (subsequently scuttled as a war grave), Type 42 Glasgow, Leander-class frigate Argonaut, Type 22 frigate Broadsword, and RFA Sir Tristram.[citation needed] Argentine Navy A-4Qs, flying from Río… Read more »

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

What was the air defences of the fleet back then compared to now?

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  James

I’m not playing top trumps.

Russian aviation was disparaged. I have only suggested we respect our ‘enemy.’

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Could not agree more about remaining respectful, or more specifically, not underestimating our adversaries.
You would hope people would be more cognisant about that after The War on Terror but apparently not.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Stone age.

Sea Cat, Sea Slug, early Sea Dart and Sea Wolf. Plus lots of vintage AA guns and also GPMG.

Not a CIWS in sight.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Different era, different capabilities not a very good example to use. But also quite good, for the pro crap Russki flying shed argument, as in that time the same airframes were doing the same thing in the UKADR, but then intercepted by lightnings, phantoms and F3s. Now the same aircraft are being intercepted by Typhoon.

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

You’re conflating issues. I am not pro-Russian and having taught school children in Latvia taken in by his vile propaganda I did everything to subvert his [email protected] that the Soviets won WWll by themselves; that opened a few young eyes.

All I have said is to respect Russian capabilities, and I am lost at the childish baiting that I have received since.

And yes, having lived in Latvia for 7 years I do think of the Russians as enemies.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

I don’t see no baiting from myself just answering your statement with a statement. I think we’re having a handbags session for no reason here.

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

I’ll buy the next round 😉

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  David

Now we are talking……I’m well into mead at the moment, good old fashioned honeyed mead, you must try it, it’s in a different league of tasty old school drinks 😁

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

When and where? Although mead is very popular in Latvia (Rīga would be a gr8 nightout) I’m into Czech lagers. When and wear on one proviso… You may have been a maroon machine but I was a true red… cap 😉

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Latvia here we come!!!!!! Mead madness……👍

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

What’s so wrong about a drag chute? They are an elegant solution for slowing down aircraft. Heck, even the Typhoon use them. And the USN are still launching their carrier jets with steam power. Again, elegant solutions that still work.
Unlike your smart phone or trainers, not all weapon systems need replacing every year or two.

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  Bluemoonday

there’s nothing wrong with drag chutes but for carrier based it seems dated. you don’t see f18s or rafales landing on carriers with drag chutes do you?

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

Your previous comment was critical of the TU95 for using a drag chute?
You also said in another comment that the Russian’s do not have any modern bombers, which they do, while the Bear can not carry precision ordinance, which it can?

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

Why are they launching from Coningsby for an interception north of Scotland instead of from Lossiemouth?

Anyone?

Tarnish
Tarnish
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Because they can. Certainly in the dim and distant we often used Southern Q aircraft to take a trip up north, often just to give crews a crack at it. As I mentioned on another thread we usually get a fair amount of notice from NATO allies on anything coming from Russian airspace.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Tarnish

Thanks

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Apart from the practice aspect, it would be a bit tight on the QRA on one base for 2 crews and the other base to be tossing it off with no ‘duties’.

Pete
Pete
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

If I read it correctly the primary comms was to Lossiemouth for them to launch….comms to Coningsby was for them to be on standby.

julian1
julian1
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

southern QRA largely for inbound unidentified (tends to be civvy with transponders off/malfunctioning) or Russians who have flown a long way south after hand over from norther QRA. I guess QRA-N is far busier than QRA-S and the southern guys can take on a bit of the workload to relieve boredom/training etc. Civvy air traffic reduced nowadays too

dan
dan
2 months ago

Putin doesn’t want the West to forget him with most Western powers concentrating on the Chicoms now.

David
David
2 months ago

So George, would it be worth a page where the QRA don’t scramble to intercept Russian Federation forces? Surely, that would be news.

Daveyb
Daveyb
2 months ago

The article doesn’t state what the Russian aircraft was/were. In the last couple of years there have been a varied amount and type of aircraft intercepted. When the QE was on exercise around Scotland, the Russians had a couple of their Tu95RTs shadowing the fleet, which are dedicated ELINT/SIGINT aircraft. But we have also seen Backfires, Blackjacks, Il 76 tanker and AEW versions, along with Su27 and Su35s as escorts coming through our FIR. However, it is the good old Tu95 Bear that is the most intercepted. Even though the design goes back to the 1950’s it is still a… Read more »

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Thanks @daveyb

John Hampson
John Hampson
2 months ago

Russia sends one 50 year old Bear everyday at a cost of £5,000 / hour. The UK responds with 2 Typhoons and a Voyager at a cost if £50,000 / hour.
Who gets the rough end of the deal?
( Not to mention the wear and tear on the Typhoon airframes. )

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hampson

Informative!

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hampson

Agree with the costs John but surely the fact it’s an active tasking for the crews, which they must enjoy, and good old fashioned training and Int value surely (should ) trump flying costs per hour?

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

The Tu95m they are using were built in the 1980’s, I think it’s the same for the Tu142. They are used in the role of a missile carrier. Russia’s missiles are very capable and with each aircraft carrying 16 very long range nuclear capable missiles, they are a very real threat. Maintenance can’t be commented on unless you work for the squadron. The b-52s are older airframes being built in the 60’s. Original design dates are roughly the same period. I would not underestimate the Russians or any enemy one bit. That’s what get you killed quickly. If it all… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

A grown up just entered the ops room.

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
2 months ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Indeed; the Bear is just one of the many weapon system’s still operating effectively today, that began service during the early stages of the Cold War.

In some respects, we should be thankful that these systems are still relevant and that the rate at which military technology was advancing at the height of the arm’s race has decreased.