The Royal Air Force launched jets to intercept Russian warplanes north of Scotland on Monday in an incident that belies the tensions building throughout Europe.
“Typhoon fighters were scrambled to intercept two Russian long-range maritime patrol bombers that were travelling north of the Shetland Islands in Scotland in the early hours Monday,” The Independent reported. “The jets, which were launched from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, monitored the Russian Tu-142 Bear-F and Tu-142 Bear-J aircraft – used for reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare – as they passed north of the UK.”
RAF responds to Russian aggression
James Heappey, the UK’s armed forces minister said: “RAF crews at Lossiemouth maintain a constant watch over UK airspace and are always ready to take action at a moment’s notice to keep our country safe…Pilots launched in their Typhoon jets to intercept two Russian long-range bombers this morning, monitoring them as they passed north of the Shetland Islands, ready to counter any potential threat to UK territory.”
The Ministry of Defense confirmed that Russian aircraft entered the UK Flight Information Region, which is the UK’s controlled region of international air space. But the Russian aircraft never entered UK airspace itself.
“These incidents are known as quick reaction alerts and involve Typhoon jets shadowing rogue aircraft if they approach UK airspace,” The Intercept reported. Monday was not the first time British jets have been launched in a quick reaction alert.
In November 2021, British Typhoons were launched to meet two Russian Tu-160 bombers that entered NATO’s policing region. And Britain isn’t the only country that has had to scramble jets to meet Russian bombers.
“The Danish air force intercepted two Russian bombers that were identified oer Denmark and flying towards the area that the Netherlands monitors for the NATO military alliance, the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) said on Monday,” The Intercept reported. “It added that Dutch F-16s were called into action on Monday morning but the Russian bombers were intercepted before they could enter Dutch NATO airspace and have now turned back.”
The US has also had to deal with Russian aircraft
In July 2023, a Russian Su-35 fighter jet flew “very close” to a surveillance aircraft conducting operations over Syrian airspace. The US jet was forced to fly through the Su-35’s turbulent wake.
“The officials said the incident…was a significant escalation in what has been a string of encounters between U.S. and Russian aircraft in Syria in recent weeks,” The AP reported. “The intercept by the Russian Su-35 impeded the U.S. crew’s ability to safely operate their MC-12 aircraft, the officials said, calling it a new level of unsafe behavior that could result in an accident or loss of life.”
Tensions have been rising between the US and Russia, as the fly-by incident demonstrates. The crux of the contemporary friction between the US and Russia is Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in the most violent and entrenched fighting on European soil since the conclusion of World War II.
US and Russian forces have not had a direct conflict with one another, although some analysts believe US support for Ukraine could risk direct conflict.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.
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