Typhoon jets, supported by a Voyager tanker, have intercepted Russian aircraft.
Two Russian aircraft were shadowed off the west coast of the Shetland Islands in international airspace before they passed by the west of Ireland to the Celtic Sea.
2 Typhoons scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth for a QRA
— Intel Air & Sea (@air_intel) March 11, 2020
French aircraft are now deployed to monitor the Russian aircraft.
0942z: French Air Force E3 No.204 callsign FAF900 heading west over the Celtic Sea pic.twitter.com/WTRdjAl23i
— Mil Radar (@MIL_Radar) March 11, 2020
Why does the RAF intercept aircraft outside sovereign UK airspace?
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.
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.