The UK’s Royal Air Force scrambled Typhoon fighter jets to intercept two Russian Blackjack Tupolev Tu-160 long-range bombers flying near the UK’s airspace on Thursday.
The Russian Tu-60 bombers are capable of carrying long-range, nuclear ballistic missiles as a part of their payload, meaning that they could potentially pose a direct threat to UK security without violating their airspace.
It is considered standard operating procedure to scramble jets to intercept military aircraft flying close to or violating a nation’s sovereign airspace. Russia is no stranger to these types of seemingly aggressive training exercises and flight operations. Last September, the United States lodged a formal complaint with the Russians over one of their fighter jets making an “unsafe intercept” of an US military aircraft over the Black Sea, and multiple incidents involving Russian aircraft and US military ships and planes earlier in the year prompted the Pentagon to address the issue with the Kremlin directly.
“There have been repeated incidents over the past year where Russian aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns.” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters at the time.