U.K. scrambles 2 fighter jets to intercept Russian bombers
In this image made available by the Royal Air Force Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, two Russian Blackjack Tupolev Tu-160 long-range bombers are followed by an RAF Typhoon aircraft, left, scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland. (Royal Air Force via AP)
The Associated Press
Published Monday, January 15, 2018 2:54PM EST
LONDON -- Britain's Royal Air Force scrambled two fighter jets to intercept Russian strategic bombers near U.K. airspace on Monday, in another illustration of ongoing tensions.
The RAF confirmed that it sent Typhoon aircraft from the Lossiemouth base in Scotland on a "quick reaction alert" as two Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bombers approached Britain.
"The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea," the air force said. "At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign U.K. airspace."
Russia's Defence Ministry said the pair of bombers flew over the Barents, Norwegian and North seas during a 13-hour training mission that covered neutral waters, in line with international norms.
"All flights by Russian aircraft are performed in strict accordance with international rules for using airspace without infringement on any countries' borders," the ministry said in a statement.
Encounters between Russian and NATO warplanes have become increasingly frequent as Moscow has demonstrated its resurgent military might.
Russia also has increased its navy's presence in the Mediterranean and other areas.
Last week, the HMS Westminster, a Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate, was ordered to intercept two Russian corvettes and two supporting vessels that neared U.K. waters en route to their Baltic base.