The UK has scrambled jet fighters to intercept two Russian bombers that were approaching its borders, the British defense ministry says.
The encounter took place on Thursday, when two RAF Typhoon aircraft took off from Scotland to escort the Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers that were flying near a UK “area of interest.”
“Quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth intercepted two Russian Blackjack bombers and escorted them while they were in the UK area of interest,” an spokeswoman for the ministry said.
“At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace,” she noted.
According to the statement, the British air force also launched two other aircraft from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire as “precautionary measure.”
The incident marks the latest in a series of close encounters between British and Russian air forces over the past years.
According to data by the Mirror, between 2010 and 2015, British Quick Response Aircraft have been scrambled at least 50 times to intercept Russian warplanes.
A Russian TU-160 Blackjack aircraft (L) being escorted by French Rafale aircraft (R) in the air outside British airspace on February 17, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
A previous encounter occurred in mid-February, when RAF Typhoons were dispatched from RAF Coningsby to keep two Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers off the coast of Cornwall.
Then-Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to the incident by saying that London should not “dignify” the point that Moscow was making with such flights.
NATO members regularly accuse Russia
of flying close to their borders. The accusations surged after the US-led alliance cut its ties with Moscow in 2014.
According to the British defense ministry, RAF fighters operating under NATO’s command were scrambled from Amari Air Base in Estonia in May, to intercept two Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets that were flying “without transmitting recognized identification codes nor were they communicating with regional air traffic control centers.”
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced in late April that his country will deploy four Typhoon warplanes to the Baltic region in order to deter “Russian aggression,” as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission.
The deployment marked Britain’s third consecutive year of partaking in the BAP, after rotations in 2014 and 2015. During their last deployment, Typhoon fighters were scrambled 17 times, and intercepted over 40 Russian aircraft.