RAF planes scrambled to investigate Russian bombers in UK airspace

These are the Russian bombers which flew so close to UK airspace that RAF planes were scrambled to investigate.

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The images, taken by the RAF, have been released by the Ministry of Defence.

The MoD confirmed that Typhoon jets were dispatched from Scottish base RAF Leuchars after the Russian presence was detected on Wednesday. The two Russian planes were identified as Russian Bear aircraft.

A spokesman said: "Typhoon quick-reaction alert aircraft were launched from RAF Leuchars to determine the identity of unknown aircraft that approached the Nato air policing area north of Scotland and could not be identified by other means."

Pilot Flight Lieutenant Gary Montgomery, of 6 Squadron, said: "We scrambled on April 23 to intercept two unknown aircraft approaching the Nato air policing area from the north. We intercepted and flew within visual range and identified them as Russian Tu-95 Bear H aircraft.

"We monitored their progress, including handing them over to Danish F-16 QRA aircraft as the Bears flew towards Denmark, then continued to monitor them as they returned and then departed towards Norwegian airspace. Intercepting Russian Bear aircraft is a routine occurrence for us, it's what we do to maintain UK sovereign airspace."

The MoD spokesman said similar incidents happened eight times during 2013, adding: "Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation."

Paul Beaver, an independent aviation analyst, said: "The Tu-95 Bear H aircraft has extraordinarily long range because it has fuel in its wings and fuselage.

"The planes are absolutely iconic, and they can stay airborne for at least 12 hours, if not 18 hours. It can go from Conakry, Guinea, to Murmansk, Russia, (going) through the Mediterranean and up to the Black Sea. It can go from Murmansk to Havana."

The analyst, who has seen the inside of the aircraft, added: "It's a really interesting environment on board, and I've been on other nation's equivalents. The planes are very rudimentary, very effective and very strong, but they have no fancy refinements.

"The aircraft is cramped, full of jagged edges, and the reason for this is that it is designed around having as much fuel it can carry."

Mr Beaver said the plane could carry "a whole fleet of weapons" including torpedoes and nuclear weapons, depending on the role of the aircraft.

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