NATO Typhoons and F-16s Intercept Russian Bear H’s over the North Sea


An RAF Typhoon FRG 4 similar to the pair from the RAF QRA which intercepted the pair of Russian Air Force Bombers Credit David Billinge

Wednesday saw The Ministry of Defence confirm that the RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoons that where scrambled to intercept two unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace to the North of Scotland had returned to their base at RAF Leuchars. It was not reported in the British Media that similar action was taken by the Danish and Dutch Air Defence organisations to identify the intruders and prevent any violations of their air space by the two aircraft that where identified as Russian Air Force Tupelov TU -95 Bear H bombers.

The two Tu-95 flew from Russia’s Kola Peninsula towards the Bear Island in the northern part of the Barents Sea, North of the Bear Island, they turned southwest towards the Norwegian Sea and continued south towards the North Sea. The initial course that the Russian aircraft was not considered to be in danger of violating Norwegian airspace and the Norwegian Air Force F-16s remained on alert. The aircraft where then intercept by two UK QRA Typhoons, off the north east of Scotland, the Tu-95’s turned and flew off in the direction of Scandinavia. The Russian aircraft where also intercepted by two Royal Danish Air Force and two Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s from Volkel.

R Nor AF f16 291

A Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 s remained on alert with Danish and Dutch F-16s being launched to intercept the Russian Bears                                Credit David Billinge

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that Typhoons were launched “to determine the identity of unknown aircraft that approached the Nato air policing area north of Scotland and could not be identified by other means”. “The aircraft were subsequently identified as Russian military aircraft.“The Russian military aircraft remained in international airspace at all times as they are perfectly entitled to do so.”

The RAF’s Quick Reaction Alert Typhoons have been scrambled in a similar way around eight times in the last year, the R Norwegian Air Force intercepted 71 Russian aircraft on 41 occasions during 2012.

Four RAF Typhoon fighters will depart for Lithuania next week to join Mig-29s from Poland at Šiauliai and Danish F-16 Fighters in Estonia as NATO steps up its commitment to its Baltic air policing role to reassure eastern members concerned by Russian aggression. The Baltic air policing fighters are being scrambled around once a week according to Lithuanian sources.

The news was widely reported in the UK media some reports better than others

Interaksyon Used a picture of the The Red Arrows These are Hawk T mk 1 training aircraft which are currently being retired from service except with the the Red Arrows, 737 NAS and 100 Sqdn RAF who will continue to fly them in support roles.

UPI also have used a picture of USAF F-15 Strike Eagle.

The Daily Mail’s Mail on line showed a picture of a Tornado F Mk 3 taking off from RAF Leuchars, The last RAF Tornado F MK 3 was retired in 2011, since when the Typhoon has been the only aircraft within the RAF capable of for filling the air interception role.

The Russian Air Force have regularly flown sorties in international air space to probe and test NATO Air Defence systems. Before the break up of the Soviet Union the Soviet Air Force flew the same TU-95 Bears to test the UK’s air defences. 

As of 2012 the Russian Airforce was said to have an inventory of 63 of the Strategic bombers and of these 55 where said to be combat  combat ready and can carry the X-55 Air LaunchedCruise Missile, RIA Novosti revealed that they had been briefed by the Russian Air Force that the mission had exceeded 16 hours and the aircrafts had then flown some 12,000 kilometers. Flights reminiscent of the Cold  War era outside Russian territory was halted after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but were resumed again in 2010.

The MoD have released these images of the Bear H bombers photographed during the interception

In Pictures: RAF Quick Reaction Typhoons Intercept Russian Bear Aircraft