Royal Air Force jets scramble to intercept Russian bombers circling UK and Ireland
Royal Air Force (RAF) jets were scrambled to intercept Russian bomber planes nearing British and Irish airspace.
Independent.ie understands the Russian Tu-160 "Blackjack" bombers entered the UK's area of interest from the north east, flying between the Shetland and Faroe islands, then flew down the west coast of Ireland and over the Bay of Biscay.
1123z: Two Russian bombers now off the west coast of Ireland FL280— Mil Radar (@MIL_Radar) February 9, 2017
A spokesperson for the Irish Aviation Authority said: "On Thursday 9th February 2017, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) monitored the activity of aircraft transiting Irish Controlled airspace. These aircraft were reported to be Russian Military aircraft.
"At no time did these aircraft enter Irish sovereign airspace. The aircraft were operating in Irish controlled airspace which extends 256 nautical miles off the west coast of Ireland, at no time did the aircraft infringe Irish sovereign airspace which extends to 12 nautical miles off the Irish coast.
"There was no safety impact to civilian traffic operating in Irish controlled airspace."
Speaking to Independent.ie earlier, a RAF spokesman said: "We can confirm that quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers while they were in the UK area of interest.
"At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace."
The Soviet-era jets are the world's largest combat aircraft. The have been modernised to carry long-range nuclear cruise missiles.
It was unclear if the planes were armed.