The UK Defence Journal understands that Typhoon jets will be deploying to the Arctic later this month for what is intended to be a secret escort mission involving a cargo aircraft.
We can also confirm that the RAF also plan to deploy Voyager tankers in order to refuel the inbound cargo aircraft. Voyager, the RAF designation for the Airbus A330 MRTT, began air-to-air refuelling flights and made its first operational tanker flight in May 2013. The UK operates a total of 14 Voyager aircraft, 5 of which are leased for commercial purposes when not required.
In addition to fuel, the Voyager aircraft is also expected to transfer over some biscuits and a large quantity of Brandy on behalf of the British people.
Typhoon jets will be available to escort the unknown aircraft as part of Operation ‘Jolly Red’, the flight plan is likely to involve low-level flights over the homes of good girls and boys in every British village, town and city.
This comes after news that the Royal Air Force was on high alert in order to intercept and track flights from the Arctic region.
The move has been prompted by an incident around a year ago in which Typhoon aircraft escorted a Lapland registered aircraft over every home in the country, the pilot of the craft was said to be under the influence of alcohol and very “festive”, this is especially dangerous due to the sheer volume of cargo the aircraft was carrying.
This is expected to happen again towards the end of this month.
An MoD spokesman had this to say:
“Interception is part of what the QRA force do. We have to identify and confirm who or what is flying through our airspace or approaching our airspace and since the craft appears at the same time each year, we have a fairly good idea who will be flying but we don’t take any chances.”
The Ministry of Defence used satellites with infrared sensors to track the aircraft last time this happened, it is understood that the heat from an animal’s red nose was clearly visible.
More on this as it develops, expect an update on the 24th and 25th of this month.