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RAF scrambles jets to intercept Russian bombers heading toward UK

Published 17/02/2016

Typhoon fighter jets have been tasked to deal with the bombers.
Typhoon fighter jets have been tasked to deal with the bombers.

RAF jet fighters have been scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers heading towards UK airspace.

The Typhoons were launched from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire on Wednesday afternoon and the incident is currently ongoing, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The jets - which are part of the UK's Quick Reaction Alert - are escorting the bombers south across the North Sea.

An MOD spokesman confirmed that the Russian Tupolev TU 160 aircraft are in the UK's "area of interest," but have not yet entered UK airspace.

The UK's airspace covers a 12-mile radius out from the UK coastline.

There have been several similar incidents in the UK and other European countries over the past year, as Nato has bolstered its presence near the Russian border.

In September, two Russian “Blackjack” jets were intercepted over the North Sea. They were flying in international airspace that the MoD again described as an “area of interest”.

In May last year, two Russian Bear bombers were tracked flying near UK airspace near the north of Scotland.

They were escorted away from the area by Typhoons but were not regarded as a threat.

Vladimir Putin was accused of Cold War-style “brinkmanship” over a series of similar incidents with Nato aircraft across Europe, with more than 100 Russian planes intercepted in 2014 alone.

But the Russian Prime Minister accused the West of starting a “new Cold War” itself as the military alliance presence in eastern Europe and bitter arguments continue about Syria and Ukraine.

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