British Air Force intercept Russian ‘spy’ plane

Two British RAF Tornados were scrambled last month to intercept a two Russian Tupolev Tu-142 (Bear) bombers just off the Scottish coast last month, it has emerged. And here’s the picture to prove it:

Russian Bear Foxtrot bomber escorted by RAF Tornado

It seems as though the Russian planes had taken a trip out to watch the Royal Navy’s recent live firing exercise, Operation Neptune Warrior, but were persuaded to turn around as the RAF Tornados flew alongside.

The British press is, rather predictably, reporting in rather gung-ho fashion, harking back to the Cold War era. The Sun quotes Squadron Leader Keith Wardlaw:

“The Russians obviously thought it might be worth having a look and taking some photos. It’s a throwback to the Cold War when they used to fly in to test our reaction times.

“It’s normal to let such aircraft know we are there by pulling up alongside and they left quietly.”

Paul Jackson, of Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft, said: “All the RAF are doing is telling them, ‘We could do this for real if we wanted to, so go and tell your mates back home.’

Paul Jackson, the editor of Jane’s Almanac brought a bit of contextual sense to the reporting, but even he couldn’t resist a bit of posturing:

“This aircraft dates back to the 1950s and although the air-frame might look dated it is still highly effective in terms of long-range maritime reconnaissance”.

“The exercise was in international waters and the Russians have got as much right to be there as we have. We do it to them, they do it to us.

“All the RAF did was to tell them, ‘We could do this for real if we wanted’.”

I’m sure the top brass over in Moscow will suffer a sleepless night tonight…

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6 Responses

  1. Aleks says:

    The tabloids have got it the wrong way around! Quoting unnamed Kremlin sources, I can categorically say that the Bear is escorting the Tornado (see picture)!

    Hopefully now that the russian armed forces are getting adequate funding, their equipment will stop killing their users (the Indians for example were having major problems with their widowmaker Mig-21s), though they still have along way to go on living conditions, pay and discipline for the troops….

  2. Tim Newman says:

    Can we still put a Tornado in the air? I’m surprised we weren’t scrambling Spitfires from a nearby museum.

  3. daft says:

    ageing fighter versus flying scrapheap…could be entertaining.

  4. Tim Newman says:

    Daft maybe onto something here. Renacting medieval battles is very popular in the UK. Maybe the Brits and Russians could get together and put decrepit, outdated, aircraft in the air to renact the old Cold War stand-off.

    It’ll be about all the respective airforces are good for these days.

  5. Aleks says:

    There’s quite a market in flying current and ‘classic’ jets: http://www.incredible-adventures.com/capetown.html

    The Bear will still be in service when the Tornado is scrapped, though whether it will out last the B-52 in service is one for the bookies….

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