Moment RAF planes intercept Russian jet flying close to British airspace

2 May 2023, 19:31 | Updated: 2 May 2023, 19:34

The RAF jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian plane
The RAF jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian plane. Picture: RAF

By Kit Heren

RAF jets have intercepted a Russian plane flying close to British airspace, in the latest meeting of the two airforces.

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The Russian Tu-142 jet flew over the Norwegian Sea and the north Atlantic Ocean north of Scotland on Sunday, remaining in international airspace.

Photos show how the RAF Typhoons were scrambled to intercept the Russian plane, known informally as a Bear.

RAF jets were scrambled to intercept the Russian plane
RAF jets were scrambled to intercept the Russian plane. Picture: RAF

A Norwegian plane was also scrambled to shepherd the Russian jet.

One of the RAF pilots involved said the "scramble demonstrated the close working relationships we have with our Nato colleagues."

RAF planes were scrambled to intercept the Russian plane
RAF planes were scrambled to intercept the Russian plane. Picture: RAF

"After scrambling to intercept the Russian aircraft, we were in close contact with RAF battlespace managers, 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," they added.

This was the latest in a series of interactions between British and Russian aircraft amid the war in Ukraine.

In late April The RAF and German airforce sent Eurofighter jets to meet two Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter planes and one Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft as they flew through international airspace in northern Europe.

The German airforce said: "Reconnaissance flights intercepted. German and British Eurofighters were alerted to identify three military aircraft.

"The two SU-27 Flankers and an IL-20 from Russia were flying again without transponder signals in international airspace over the Baltic Sea".

Britain's armed forces minister James Heappey said: "NATO continues to form the bedrock of our collective security.

British and German warplanes intercepted two Russian jets
British and German warplanes intercepted two Russian jets. Picture: @Team_Luftwaffe/Twitter

"This joint UK and German deployment in the Baltics clearly demonstrates our collective resolve to challenge any potential threat to NATO's borders, whilst demonstrating our combined strength."

As NATO members, the UK and Germany are partly responsible for patrolling European airspace.

The skies close to the Russian border, have seen heightened security since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and NATO aircraft have had several brushes with their Russian counterparts in recent months.

A British RAF jet was almost shot down after a Russian pilot believed he had been ordered to fire a missile – but a malfunction stopped it.

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. Picture: @Team_Luftwaffe/Twitter

The British surveillance aircraft, which had a crew on board, was flying over the Black Sea when it was intercepted by Russian fighter jets.

Two anonymous US defence officials have said a Russian pilot misinterpreted what a radar operator on the ground told him, and believed he had permission to shoot it down.The jet locked on to the aircraft, but the missile did not launch properly, the officials told The New York Times.

Read more: Seconds from disaster: Russia 'nearly shot down RAF plane' but malfunction stopped missile attack

Read more: RAF jets scramble to intercept unresponsive Russian military plane after US drone downed in Black Sea

It followed a massive leak of US intelligence relating to the Ukraine war – considered the worst breach since Edward Snowden – revealed the incident between the British Rivet Joint and Russian Su-27s on September 29 was much more serious that originally made out.

The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said in October that the encounter was "potentially dangerous" and a missile was released in the RAF jet's "vicinity".

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. Picture: @Team_Luftwaffe/Twitter

He told MPs that analysis suggested a "malfunction" took place, which led to the missile being fired. But the US officials' claim that it was only a technical malfunction that stopped the missile from properly launching at the jet, with one calling the incident "really, really scary".

They said the jets were not within visual range of the Rivet Joint. One leaked document described it as a "near-shoot down".

A British defence official said: "A significant proportion of the content of these reports is untrue, manipulated, or both."

We strongly caution against anybody taking the veracity of these claims at face value and would also advise them to take time to question the source and purpose of such leaks."

A shoot down would have had serious implications for Britain and Nato's involvement in the war, with the other members bound to defend Britain if it was attacked.

Meanwhile in March a Russian fighter jet knocked a US drone which forced it to crash into international waters.

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