RAF Typhoon fighter jets demonstrated the sizable scope of the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) contribution to European security after scrambling from two locations in two separate incidents on the same day, Thursday August, 8.
RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon fighter aircraft scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth, with Voyager from RAF Brize Norton, to monitor two Russian Bear maritime patrol aircraft approaching UK airspace.
Meanwhile Typhoons deployed on NATO Baltic Air Policing also scrambled from Amari airbase to intercept a Russian Bear bomber and two Flanker fighter aircraft flying close to Estonian airspace.
The QRA launch from RAF Lossiemouth took place after the two Russian patrol aircraft flew close to the international airspace of the UK’s fellow NATO Allies. A co-ordinated response allowed Allies to monitor the aircraft until the RAF intercepted them.
RAF fighters escorted them from the UK’s area of interest and ensured that they did not enter either UK sovereign airspace. The intercept and monitoring was completed in international airspace throughout and conducted in a safe and professional manner.
The RAF routinely identifies, intercepts and escorts Russian aircraft that transit international airspace. Russian aircraft frequently attempt to test NATO’s level of readiness, as well as conduct intelligence-gathering missions. The rapid reaction of the RAF and by NATO allies serves as a reminder of NATO’s cohesion and its ability to react.
In the UK, the RAF Typhoon and Voyager aircraft are held at a state of readiness every day, supported by engineering and airspace management personnel.
The lead RAF pilot of the Typhoons that intercepted the Russian aircraft said: “Protecting NATO and UK airspace is what the RAF is here for, so today’s mission gave us the opportunity to demonstrate that we will always police our area of interest and also how well trained the Typhoon force is for dealing with events like this.”
Estonia QRA launch
On the same day the RAF Typhoons deployed on NATO Baltic Air Policing in Estonia intercepted a Russian Tu-95 Bear bomber, heading west close to Estonian airspace.
A Typhoon pilot from XI(F) Sqn, attached to 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), was conducting QRA duty when the scramble was called. He said: “We were scrambled to intercept a Russian Tu-95 aircraft, routing west close to Estonian airspace. We then handed over the escort to our Finnish and Swedish partners, as the aircraft continued west. We were then tasked to re-intercept and escort the Tu-95 Bear which had since been joined by two Su-30 Flankers. These Russian aircraft transiting the Baltic region were not on a recognised flight plan or communicating with Air Traffic Control. The intercept was uneventful and conducted in a professional manner throughout.”
The RAF is deployed on Operation Azotize in Estonia in support of Baltic Air Policing. This is the 17th QRA scramble resulting in an intercept since the RAF took over enhanced Air Policing (eAP) from the German Air Force on May 3, 2019 as part of Baltic Air Policing.