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Wed, Aug 22, 2007

Typhoons Intercept Russian Bomber Near UK Airspace

Tensions Mount Between Countries

As ANN recently reported, Russia seems bent on reasserting its place on the global stage of aerial warfare. The former Soviet Union recently stepped up surveillance flights of Cold War-era Tu-95 "Bear" bombers, to the chagrin of the United States and NATO.

Last Friday, two Royal Air Force jets were scrambled last Friday to intercept another bomber after it came a little too close to entering United Kingdom airspace over the north Atlantic. UK Sky News reports two Eurofighter Typhoon interceptors shadowed the Cold War-era reconnaissance aircraft when it appeared unannounced and brushed UK airspace. The surveillance aircraft turned back just prior to actually entering UK airspace.

"RAF Typhoons from Numbers 3(F) and XI Squadrons launched to shadow a Russian Bear-H aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean on Friday 17 August 2007," said the Ministry of Defense.

According to The Australian, relations between Russia and Britain have recently been deteriorating. There have been several incidents where Russian submarines have moved too close to British shores and incidents in Royal Navy ships and Russian sub contacts have increased.

There are suggestions Russia might be testing the UKs air detection systems and response times and levels, according to the London Daily Telegraph.

Tensions between the two countries have reportedly been strained since the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London. That tension intensified as the Bear bombers moved towards the UK.

This is the first time Russian aircraft threatened to penetrate British airspace since President Vladimir Putin issued an order for bombers to resume worldwide, long-range patrols, ending the 15-year suspension of bomber flights.

Although a dozen Typhoons are now at the ready at RAF Coningsby, it will be at least another year before they are ready for air-to-ground combat missions, according to RAF chiefs.

The more than $133 million Typhoons replaced the RAF's fleet of aging Tornado F3 aircraft. Remaining F3s are currently assigned to RAF Leuchars in Scotland and will protect the northern UK for the next five to six months before they are replaced, as well.

FMI: www.mod.uk, www.raf.mod.uk

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