For the third time in six days, Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby have been scrambled to intercept Russian military aircraft.

The Ministry of Defence say that two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers approached the UK Flight Information Region (FIR), north of the Scottish coast before flying down the west coast of Ireland.

RAF quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth scrambled to monitor two Russian Blackjacks while they were in the UK area of interest.

These scrambles have been caused by the Russian aircraft entering the UK FIR, the UK’s controlled zone of international airspace. Monitoring this zone ensures the safe passage for all other aircraft, including civilian transatlantic airliners that are under UK civilian air traffic control.

The Russian aircraft were monitored throughout their flight by the National Air and Space Operations Centre at RAF High Wycombe and Air Surveillance and Control System at RAF Boulmer.  Activity was coordinated closely with NATO allies, including the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem in Germany.

A RAF Voyager tanker aircraft from RAF Brize Norton was also launched to provide air-to-air refuelling for the Typhoons.

Air Vice Marshal Duguid, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group said in a release:

“The interception by RAF Typhoons and other NATO fighters of the Russian bombers for the third time in a week demonstrates our continuing resolve to police, protect and defend our airspace 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

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.

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.

You can read more on this here.

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Not again Vladimir, the NATO north ex has stopped because of Coronavirus, don’t you read the news?


Surely you do not expect Putin and co to morals do you? lol


*to have Morals


It’s interesting that the Russians are not reporting their own figures. I wonder what will happen if/when it takes off there – assuming it hasn’t done already of course


Julian, 34 confirmed, no deaths, about 7,000 on watch list. That was about 12 hours ago so probably increased. That is from Russian media yesterday


Well Putey and Trump had a (then) secret phone call in Jan on the subject and subsequently the US deliberately set out on a course to suppress their own numbers for economic (and subsequent re election) reasons which this past few weeks due to media focus has become unsustainable and unravelled. This led to the subsequent attempt by Trump only yesterday to claim the reality that he tried to hide has all just occurred because of European travellers infecting good Americans with their foreign virus. One would presume that a similar process has happened in Russia except with their grip… Read more »

Mark B

Perhaps the Russian pilots are effectively self isolating and using up all that fuel they can’t give away on the oil markets.

Robert Blay

Good job we have those wonderful Typhoons.


Air fuel’s cheap now so Vlad can afford a bit of willy waving !


It’s not just willy waving, it’s down right reckless – and dangerous to civilian aircraft in the FIRs. It’s only the military keeping a watch that is preventing a catastrophic event. If an eveny did happen would Putin take responsiblity for the reckless actions of his air force? Nah!!


“… an event did…


I was being sarcastic – I’m aware of the foolishness of it.


Not sarcastic HF – you are spot on actually. But a serious business, all the same.

Ryan Connelly

Three times in one week, when was the last time they where this provocative air wise?


They are like Iran and North Korea, like children they always act out when they feel they aren’t getting enough attention.


Spot on watcherzero.

Daniele Mandelli

Beautiful aircraft the Blackjacks.

But I wonder why they fly without their transponders? What is the benefit? They know they will be seen in any case. They can still test responses, use ELINT, and so on.

Not filing a flight plan is understandable. I doubt the RC135’s file flight plans when flying along the periphery of Russia. Do they have their transponders off too?


The times I have bothered to read articles about NATO planes near our borders it is all ways US aircraft with transponders off and UK have transponders on. You will have to decide for yourself how accurate that is or if just media hype sorry. It is such a common thing I don’t usually care about the stories unless something interesting happens

Mark B

We are not hearing of any Coronovirus figures in Russia. Is that right? Are there preparations going on in preparation for an epidemic?


MH17 had transponder on and that didnt help against a Russian army BUK missile hitting it.


Just opened FlightRadar24. There appears to be a steady stream of commercial flights over Northern Russia, from the Far East to Europe, a good way south of their northern border. However, over the northern shores of Russia (e.g. Barents Sea) there are next to no tracks at all. Clear airspace. Compare this with the three FIRs around and to the east of UK and it’s a solid mass of commercials going east and west, to and from the US and Europe. You can see straight away the recklessness of any aircraft flying through that airspace without a transponder. Most certainly… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I agree. Which is why I don’t understand what the advantage is of not IDing themselves. If a collision happens it would be disastrous PR for Russia.


Russia’s PR has not been great anyway take the downing of MH17 denial
against mountains of evidence.

Daniele Mandelli

Too true.

Paul T

Yes – the Trial is happening right now at the Hague.

Mr Bell

What they upto? It’s going to be interesting to see if Russia or China try to take any advantage over a country hard hit by coronavirus. Come off it Putin, people are dying out there, this is no time for your brain dead stupidity.


Have you seen the conspiracy on twitter/facebook about the following?

The biological research lab in the town where the virus was first discovered has the exact same logo as the Umbrella Corporation. Further Corana is an a anagram of Racoon! Just saying….

Steve Martin

Time to call in Milla Jovovich

Daniele Mandelli

I don’t think they are up to anything beyond the normal. They spy on us, we spy on them. That continues virus or no virus.

Just like in the late 90s post Cold War when we were all supposedly friends they had nukes pointing at us and we still target them.


Can the Typhoon keep up with the Blackjack-Mach 2!!


Typhoon Mach 2. Blackjack Mach 2. Meteor BVRAAM Mach 4… no contest!

Barry Larking

How kind! Imagine what it would cost to mount A.I. exercises for training all aspects of U.K and Republic of Ireland air sovereignty and make this training as ‘real’ as possible. Thanks Vladimir old chap! And congrats at winning the next several elections by a 99 per cent margin!

Don Bacon

1. The United States does not recognize the right of a coastal nation to apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter national airspace nor does the United States apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter U.S. airspace. Accordingly, U.S. military aircraft not intending to enter national airspace should not identify themselves or otherwise comply with ADIZ procedures established by other nations, unless the United States has specifically agreed to do so. 2. intercept: obstruct (someone or something) so as to prevent them from continuing to a destination. . . .So this was… Read more »