Two Russian Tupolev Tu-142 Bear maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft were on August 8, 2019, intercepted by a United Kingdom Royal Air Force Typhoon Eurofighter, which took off from Lossiemouth airbase along with a Voyager plane from Brize Norton base. According to the UK Ministry of Defence another set of Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighters got airborne from Estonia's Amari airbase on the same day to intercept a Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber/missile platform aircraft and two Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker fighters flying close to Estonian airspace.
The Tupolev Tu-142 is based on the Tu-95 turboprop strategic and nuclear bomber of the Russian military. The UK Ministry of Defence added that the two intercepts by Typhoon Eurofighters demonstrated the sizable scope of the RAF's contribution to European security after scrambling from two locations in two separate incidents on the same day.
"Every day certain states are determined to push international norms and to test the UK’s resolve. The threats to the international rules based system are on many fronts. The RAF is well equipped to stand sentry alongside our allies on the UK’s and Europe’s borders. I am grateful they are there 24/7 to uphold the UK’s commitment to our security," said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
The QRA Typhoon launch from RAF Lossiemouth took place after the two Russian Tu-142 patrol aircraft flew close to the international airspace of the UK’s fellow NATO allies following which a coordinated response allowed them to monitor the aircraft until the RAF intercepted them.
The Typhoons escorted them from the UK’s area of interest and ensured that they did not enter Britain's sovereign airspace. The intercept and monitoring was completed in international airspace throughout and conducted in a safe and professional manner, said the RAF.
"Protecting NATO and UK airspace is what the RAF is here for, so today’s mission gave us the opportunity to demonstrate that we will always police our area of interest and also how well trained the Typhoon force is for dealing with events like this," said the lead RAF pilot of the Typhoons that intercepted the Russian aircraft near the UK airspace.
In the second incident in Estonia, the RAF Typhoons deployed on NATO Baltic Air Policing intercepted a Russian Tu-142 Bear bomber, heading west close to Estonian airspace. The Typhoons then handed the escort over to Finish and Swedish QRA aircraft, before being tasked to re-intercept to maintain the escort of the TU-142 as it transited close to NATO airspace. The Bear bomber was later in the flight accompanied by two Russian Su-30 Flanker fighters.
"We were scrambled to intercept a Russian Tu-142 aircraft, routing west close to Estonian airspace. We then handed over the escort to our Finish and Swedish partners, as the aircraft continued West. We were then tasked to re-intercept and escort the TU-142 Bear which has since been joined by two Su-30 Flanker. These Russian aircraft transiting the Baltic region were not on a recognised flight plan or communicating with Air Traffic Control. The intercept was uneventful and conducted in a professional manner throughout," said a Typhoon pilot from XI(Fighter) Squadron, attached to 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) who was conducting Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty, when the scramble was called.
The Royal Air Force is deployed on Operation AZOTIZE in Estonia in support of Baltic Air Policing and August 8, 2019, incident is the 17th QRA scramble resulting in an intercept since the RAF took over enhanced Air Policing (eAP) from the German Air Force on May 3, 2019, as part of Baltic Air Policing.