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RAF fighter planes launched to monitor Russian aircraft near isles

A QUICK reaction alert operation involving RAF Typhoon fighter planes from Lossiemouth took place on Wednesday morning in airspace near Shetland to intercept Russian maritime patrol aircraft.

Two Russian Tu-142 ‘BEAR-F’ aircraft approached from the north east and flew in international airspace over the Norwegian and North Seas. At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK sovereign airspace.

A NATO E-3 Sentry plane, which is used to monitor airspace for threat detection, had also been circling the isles before heading north east of Shetland.

In addition, an RAF tanker plane used to refuel aircraft operated south east of Shetland.

Air chief marshal Mike Wigston, chief of the air staff, said: “These Russian bombers are relics of the Cold War, do not comply with international air traffic regulations and are a hazard to civilian and military aircraft.

“Despite the global pandemic, the Royal Air Force and our allies continue to ensure Russian military flights pose no threat to NATO and UK airspace.”

One of the quick reaction alert pilots from RAF Lossiemouth who intercepted the Russian Bears said: “Today’s scramble demonstrated the close working relationships we have with our NATO colleagues.

“After scrambling to intercept the two Russian aircraft, we were in close contact with battlespace managers from the RAF and Norway, who directed us towards the aircraft and relayed orders throughout, ensuring we could confirm where they were and what they were doing at all times”

Norwegian Quick Reaction Alert was also launched in the form of F-16s and F-35s

Quick reaction alerts see aircraft launched to meet a potential threat to the UK and they have often taken place in airspace around Shetland over the years.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021