RAF catches Russian bombers in UK airspace

#1
The Scotrman

RAF catches Russian bombers in UK airspace


Published Date: 25 March 2010
By Mark Smith

• An RAF Tornado fighter closes in on one of the two Russian 'Blackjack' bombers that were intercepted in UK airspace. Picture: Ministry of Defence/Complimentary

The Russian planes, the world's biggest combat aircraft that are capable of carrying nuclear or conventional weapons, were intercepted by two Tornados near Stornoway in the Western Isles.

RAF crews have now been scrambled 20 times in the past year to intercept Russian aircraft over British airspace, the Ministry of Defence revealed last night.

MoD insiders claim the Russian operation may have been aimed at watching preparations for a major military exercise to take place off the Scottish coast next month.

The two Tornado F3 fighters from 111 Squadron were scrambled from RAF Leuchars in Fife in the early hours of 10 March.

After intercepting the Russian bombers, the Tornados shadowed the Tupolev TU-160 aircraft as they flew south before turning north, just short of the Northern Ireland coast.

Eventually the Russians left UK airspace and, after four hours, the Tornado crews stood down and returned to Leuchars.

Wing Commander Mark Gorringe, who is the commander of 111 Squadron, said: "This is not an unusual incident and people may be surprised to know that our crews have successfully scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft on more than 20 occasions since the start of 2009.

"Our pilots, navigators and, indeed, all the support personnel at RAF Leuchars work very hard to deliver the UK Quick Reaction Alert Force 24 hours a day, which can be scrambled in minutes, to defend the UK from unidentified aircraft entering our airspace, or aircraft in distress.

"It's a very important job, defending the UK and helping to keep UK citizens safe. It is also important for the safety of civilian aircraft that we intercept all aircraft that do not make contact with British air traffic control."

New RAF Typhoon fighter jets are scheduled to replace the Tornados the in the Quick Reaction Alert role next year.

The latest incident followed the resumption in 2007 of long-range bomber patrols by the Russians, which has resulted in RAF fighters being scrambled on a number of occasions.

The bomber flights have been seen as an indication of the current tensions between Russia and the West, particularly Britain.

MoD sources said the latest episode may have been linked to the Joint Warrior military exercise to be staged off the Scottish coast from 12 April. As part of the exercise, navy, RAF and army squadrons will be engaged in mock engagements across the north and west coasts of Scotland. It will involve forces from other Nato countries.

The source said: "It is possible that the Russians were having a nosey around the north of Scotland to keep an eye on preparations for this major exercise.

"The Ark Royal was also on operation in this area in recent weeks, which may have attracted attention from the Russian military.

"These events have become fairly common in recent years and are really just about the Russians trying to make their presence felt."

In 2007, a nuclear-armed Blackjack bomber staged a mock attack on the east coast of England and got within 90 seconds of Hull without being intercepted. Creeping in low over the North Sea, it changed course only 20 miles from UK territorial airspace.

'White Swan' harks back to days of Soviet Union

THE Tupolev Tu-160 is a supersonic heavy bomber which began to be deployed in the last years of the Soviet Union.

Known as the "White Swan" by its crews, it is the largest jet-powered combat aircraft ever built.

Although several civil and military transport aircraft are bigger, the Tu-160 has the heaviest take-off weight and the highest top speed of any combat aircraft, as well as one of the largest payloads of any current heavy bomber.

The aircraft remains in production, with at least 16 currently in service with the Russian air force.

It has the following specifications:

Crew: four

Wingspan: 35.6m

Length: 54.1m

Height: 13.1m

Normal Combat Load Weight: 9,000kg

Maximum Combat Load Weight: 40,000kg

Fuel Weight: 148,000kg

Maximum Flight Speed: 2,000km/h


THiS striking picture shows the RAF intercepting two long-range Russian "Blackjack" bombers after they breached UK airspace off the Scottish coast.
 

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#3
ow well lucky we can count on the french to help us out when we need it .......... I wander if my Nan's still got the anderson shelter in the back garden? :D
 
#4
Is time for the "I want my Cold War back" thread to make a come-back? I'll get into character as padre by doing something religious - like taking a collection
 
#5
Cuddles said:
Is time for the "I want my Cold War back" thread to make a come-back? I'll get into character as padre by doing something religious - like taking a collection
Collection? And I'll go and hide in the gym.
 
#6
The Russians made great enemies. You just needed to avoid going to actual war with them and life was cushty.

Can we have that back again? Only, with goretex this time round?
 
#7
Mr_Deputy said:
Cuddles said:
Is time for the "I want my Cold War back" thread to make a come-back? I'll get into character as padre by doing something religious - like taking a collection
you'll most likely get a hat full of old pfennings, spent 9mm cases and Warsteiner bottle caps.

I bl00dy love Warsteiner.
Have you got two Herforder tops for a Warsteiner by any chance? I don't really want to tip a whole 9mm case...
 
#8
nnnnnnnnno, not again , i have sold my SLR and spare mag's, all my DPM has faded and my "war" reserve of compo in the NBC bunker under my cammo SHED has past its reheat date!! My DMS have a hole in the left boot , the wife has been wearing my thermal longjohn's for the use of and there is no way that the compass i" acquired" on discharge is still magnetic.
The noddy suit went fishing years ago, some bsr*td nicked my respirator from the bogs at Anfield when i took it off to have a pee ( came in handy up the Kop, those scallies never wash) Still got my helmet crewman ,but it's full of dahlias, Fc*k it , they need to give us more warning, and have they forgotten we dont do weekends/public holidays.. bloody Russians got no manners these days, we used to have it all worked out by mutual consent, thats it we are cancelling our guided tour of the gulags this year brs*tds
 

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#9
Just out of interest, who else's airspace do they fly through to get here and as a result, why isn't there a flying circus of Western European Air Forces' fighters breathing down their necks?
 
#10
righthandmarker said:
Just out of interest, who else's airspace do they fly through to get here and as a result, why isn't there a flying circus of Western European Air Forces' fighters breathing down their necks?
They'll come north into Barents Sea, take a left, skip past Norway - who do follow them and then they'll get passed onto us. Or do you believe they suddenly appeared over Stornoway with no warning at all?
 
#11
to defend the UK from unidentified aircraft entering our airspace, or aircraft in distress. 8O
 
#12
righthandmarker said:
Just out of interest, who else's airspace do they fly through to get here and as a result, why isn't there a flying circus of Western European Air Forces' fighters breathing down their necks?
Pretty sure they piss off Norway when they do stuff like this.
 
#13
It's bloody brave or extremely foolhardy to fly all those miles, at that height, in such an elderly aircraft. If it became a shooting war they probably wouldn't have the manoeuvrability or spare thrust to get out of the way.

The Tornado I mean, not the Blackjack....
 
#14
box-of-frogs said:
righthandmarker said:
Just out of interest, who else's airspace do they fly through to get here and as a result, why isn't there a flying circus of Western European Air Forces' fighters breathing down their necks?
They'll come north into Barents Sea, take a left, skip past Norway - who do follow them and then they'll get passed onto us. Or do you believe they suddenly appeared over Stornoway with no warning at all?
Well you can never be sure with these Reds. My mum said I was never to trust Ivan and she was right. Fancy that?! trying to sneak in passed Norway.
 
#15
I strongly doubt that the Russian planes violated British air-space. The newspaper refers to 'the sources' and to 'the insiders'.

They are no more than rumours. Likely as ever the planes flew close to the borders.
 
#16
The Russians made great enemies.
We British also used to play quite useful "enemy". We rather liked to be seen assisting the civil power. Sometimes not being seen whilst assisting friendly governments. Police actions were OK too.

Then we imported direct action from our cultural mentors in the USA and "mirabile dictu" we seem to be at war with just about everybody.

It may be somewhat school-boyish to enjoy giving other nations the bird, whilst temporarily invading their airspace, but it harks back to happier and more innocent times. Oh, that we still had the planes to do it.

B
 
#17
Augustus said:
It's bloody brave or extremely foolhardy to fly all those miles, at that height, in such an elderly aircraft. If it became a shooting war they probably wouldn't have the manoeuvrability or spare thrust to get out of the way.

The Tornado I mean, not the Blackjack....
8O :D :)
 
#18
I understand that in the real good old days, when it was Lightnings intercepting Bears, the Russkies had such a good idea of our capabilities that a rear gunner on the intercepted Bear tapped his watch, to remind the Lightning jockey that he was about to run low on fuel....
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
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#19
Bloody Eastern European immigrants! Trying to bypass border controls, just so they can get to Scotland for the free Universiies, NHS car parks, old age care and free prescriptions!
 
#20
Slow news day?

The Cold War commonplace of 'BEARs in the air' now so rare it is newsworthy?

A bit of RAF PR in advance of SDR?

Who knows, who cares.

C_C
 
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