Typhoon jets have been scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth to intercept an aircraft over the North Sea.

A Voyager tanked also supported the Quick Reaction Alert mission.

UPDATED: “A pair of TU-142 ‘Bear-F’ Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-submarine warfare aircraft were tracked by NATO as they transited within NATO’s northern air policing area. As they continued to fly towards UK airspace, RAF Typhoons were launched. Intercepting the two cold war era aircraft over the North Sea, the RAF Typhoons shadowed the aircraft throughout their time in our area of interest.”

Russian aircraft intercepted off Scottish coast

For those that don’t know, Quick Reaction Alert is state of readiness maintained by fighter jets and their crews at all hours of the day so they can quickly react tand get their aircraft in the air should they be required.

 

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 isnot news!’. While this is a common occurence, 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 occurence and not something to worry about?

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
34 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
chris stocken
chris stocken
2 months ago

Do the RAF still look after southern Ireland air space?.

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  chris stocken

It’s just Ireland, and yes.

Alabama Boy
Alabama Boy
2 months ago

Nice of the Russians to fly at medium/high level so it doesn’t expose the lack of UKADR low level radar capability as the E3D is being taken out of service.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
2 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Boy

Shame really, seeing as E-7’s will only number 3 – which is wholly inadequate. But can’t civilian radars be used to monitor low-level?

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

not really, radar horizons/earth curvature & all that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_horizon
Airborne radar gives you a lookdown capability.

Last edited 2 months ago by Heidfirst
Trevor
Trevor
2 months ago
Reply to  Heidfirst

Just as well that Saxa Vord is back!

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
2 months ago

Apparently it was a pair of TU-142 ‘Bear-F’ s https://www.raf.mod.uk/news/articles/aircraft-in-uk-controlled-airspace/

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

The Russians are just reminding us that they can track our silent nuclear submarines with their ‘loudest acoustic aircraft ever’ recce aircraft 😁😂🤣!

Mark
Mark
2 months ago

This is a form of attrition by constantly buzzing our air space and forcing us to intercept there decades old fleet of bears. We are in fact burning through the flying hours of our feet of aircraft and as the article states if we don’t they will just press further and further till they fly over our heads. Is this why tranche 1 typhoons are being retired as they are spent airframes(also obsolete)?
We seriously need to start producing a new light fighter for this duty and as an export like the old hawk.

Julian1
Julian1
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Surely by the same logic the Russian airframes are even more spent?

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Complete tosh. QRA flying hours are insignificant in the overall life cycle and fatigue life of a fighter.

Mike
Mike
2 months ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

Tell that to the American F15 fleet which has speed limits on the aircraft cause of age and airframe stress

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

Between 2009-2019 336 QRA reported say 8 hrs on station that’s 2688 flying hours alone x2 typhoons that’s a third of a typhoons stated flying life. So in the typhoons 30 year so called life 2 typhoons will be used up purley on this. So yes insignificant untill you add it all up.

Steve R
Steve R
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Not the same two Typhoons, though. Divide it across 12 aircraft at least – squadron’s worth plus any spare airframes rotated in and out of the squadron.

Steve R
Steve R
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

I’d much rather have Typhoon as our QRA aircraft in case one day things turned nasty and they had to actually engage.

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

And waste a few more Billions we don’t have, when we have the worlds best with Typhoon.

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Like the RN have realised having the world’s best combat platforms performing policing duties like escorting a Russian destroyer through the channel is a waste of assets.The hawk production line is finishing it’s last orders. We aren’t selling typhoons on mass to bring costs down. Italys Leonardo m346 has recently made 3-4 export orders. Indias Tejas is selling, America venture with Saabs trainer is just about finished. Tempest will be a direct typhoon replacement multi role high cost fighter. Whilst reading comments and writing this I found my answer That we are developing a new low cost trainer/fighter to replace… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

You may have your wish then it’s modularity gives it a lot of flexibility and potential but I doubt that they will be used in such a role. I’m sure the Typhoons and in future the Tempest’s capabilities and sensor kit are important in making sure you are at the forefront of your game in case it ever got serious and can control the environment over any individual intercept. A back up capability mind would certainly be an asset I’m sure if the pressure is ever on.

Marked
Marked
2 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Assuming tempest ever flies, I doubt many of its sensors would ever be used in QRA. Why let the Russians be able to capture Intel on its capabilities? Doesn’t make sense when it could pretty much fly the whole mission on ground control. Keep the big hitters capabilities under wraps until things turn hot.

I can see the merits in a cheaper 2nd line airframe pretty much just shadowing on routine QRA job.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Aircraft like Hawk type aircraft are totally unsuitable for QRA. No radar, can’t air air refuel, limited range weapons carriage ect We use Typhoons and F22 for a reason. And it’s also a show of intent. Using light aircraft says we aren’t taking it very seriously.

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

With the Cold War showing little sign of thawing, in the late 1970s the government looked to improve UK air defence. Part of the requirement called for a local air defence fighter capable of taking on enemy aircraft that had evaded the Lightning and Phantom fighter screen, and defensive SAMs. The Hawk offered an ideal basis for such a fighter and between 1983 and 1989, some 89 aircraft were modified to T.Mk 1A standard, equipped to launch pairs of AIM-9L Sidewinder IR-guided air-to-air missiles, in addition to the centreline 30mm ADEN gun pod. Using billion POUND aircraft to police air… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Jesus 🤦, you can’t compare using a RN patrol ship to intercepting Russia aircraft with Typhoons. Light aircraft are not suitable for QRA. If it was cost effective, we would do it, but we don’t, same way the USAF don’t use light aircraft for QRA Or anyone else. They don’t have the range,speed,endurance, all weather capability, no air to air refueling capability radar and data link capability. And it would cost a few billion to develop a new aircraft, so if we had the cash, we might as well buy more Typhoons that we can use for the full spectrum… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

The difference then Mark is that the Hawks still had no radar and would operate as part of a 4 ship package with 1 Phantom. They were and still are short legged and only x 2 sidewinders, they were just an effort to increase our abilty at countering the expected Russian low and mid level strikes at airfields etc. Same thought process as the Armys next level of soldiers after the TA was (if I remember correctly) the effort to recruit 5000 even older ex regs to guard key points, at platoon sized. They would only need to do, I… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Ha! The Home Service Force was it?

Remember them. The Dads army of the Cold War. Pure Spetsnatz fodder.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago

That’s them yes thanks mate, couldn’t quite remember their name……

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

She was designed in the 60/70’s. Yes shes good, but expensive for just escort duties

paul
paul
2 months ago

As all civil traffic squawk their position/call sign,is it not possible for satellites to give the position of hostiles if radar ability is limited..
If so this could be used by A.T.C to divert civil traffic,as would happen if a aircraft had called a emergency.

Last edited 2 months ago by paul
Goldilocks
Goldilocks
2 months ago

What’s happened to some of the comments? They seem to have disappeared…

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

I have seen that in the past I think it may be a moderation instance I do get messages from time to time to say posts have been passed when as far as I knew when posting them they were already there. I suspect if the original is under moderation the replies disappear too it’s a bit like watching the points race in cycling ie obscure. So they may return who knows, no idea what gets them selected for moderation in the first place mind.

Pete
Pete
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Similar experience about 10 days ago. A complete sub thread involving several posters disappeared. Mind you…it did contain a link to a uk academic paper suggesting that China may have cause to have a valid claim on many of the SCS Islands. Got impression big brother wasn’t happy but was probably due to something in the thread coming across as being offensive….

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Pete

It’s because if one comment gets flagged and “sin binned” until it’s manually approved, all the replies to it go as well.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

AH, I hadn’t appreciated that. Might explain why some of my comments disappear when I am pretty sure they are as innocuous as could be.

Thanks Dern.

Cheers CR

Tarnish
Tarnish
2 months ago

The idea of replacing Typhoon with a Hawk like aircraft does not allow for the fact that a supersonic aircraft can quickly get in position for intercept, remember that not all Russian bombers are lumbering bears.

The UK is fortunate in having the luxury of advanced warning from our NATO partners for most QRA launches which allows time to launch QRA along with tanker aircraft.

Mark
Mark
2 months ago

A few posts on here understand what I’m getting at. I am not saying send up the hawkes for QFA…I’m saying in the past we had a cheap aircraft that was easily upgraded to to fulfill this role in time of crisis. And that the Russians intentionally fly the aging bears once month to make us use our limited typhoons and yes I’m fully aware it isn’t the same air frame but the hours add up as I stated typhoons ain’t cheap to fly and maintain. I did find out and post that we are developing a new light fighter… Read more »