RAF jets shadow Russian bombers over UK
Published 25/03/2010 | 05:00
RAF jets have been scrambled 20 times in the last year to intercept Russian aircraft over British airspace, it was revealed yesterday.
The revelation came as British defence chiefs released photographs of two Russian Blackjack bombers intercepted over Scotland.
Two RAF Tornado F3 fighters from 111 Squadron were scrambled from RAF Leuchars in Fife in the early hours of March 10.
They intercepted the Russian planes near Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
The Tornados shadowed the bombers as they flew south before they turned north, just short of the Northern Ireland coast.
Eventually the Russians left UK airspace and, after four hours, the Tornado crews stood down and returned to Leuchars.
Wing Commander Mark Gorringe, commander of 111 Squadron, said: "This is not an unusual incident and people may be surprised to know that our crews have successfully scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft on more than 20 occasions since the start of 2009.
"Our pilots, navigators and indeed all the support personnel at RAF Leuchars work very hard to deliver the UK Quick Reaction Alert Force 24 hours a day, which can be scrambled in minutes, to defend the UK from unidentified aircraft entering our airspace, or aircraft in distress.
"It's a very important job, defending the UK and helping to keep UK citizens safe," he added.