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Monday 22 January 2018

Jets scrambled after Russian bombers skirt Irish airspace

A Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber (Photo AFP/Getty Images)
A Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber (Photo AFP/Getty Images)
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

British jets scrambled to intercept Russian bomber planes nearing UK and Irish airspace yesterday.

It is understood Russian Tu-160 'Blackjack' bombers entered the UK's 'area of interest' from the north east, flying between the Shetland and Faroe islands, and then flew down the west coast of Ireland, and over the Bay of Biscay.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said that while the aircraft were operating in Irish-controlled airspace, at no time did they enter Irish sovereign airspace.

The Soviet-era jets are the world's largest combat aircraft.

They have been modernised to carry long-range nuclear cruise missiles.

It was unclear if the planes were armed.

"On Thursday February 9, 2017, the IAA monitored the activity of aircraft transiting Irish-controlled airspace. These aircraft were reported to be Russian military aircraft," a spokesperson for the IAA said.

The Royal Air Force said that quick-reaction Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby "scrambled" to monitor the bombers but "at no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace".

Irish Independent

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