TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has scrambled two fighter jets to intercept a pair of Russian strategic bombers approaching Britain’s airspace, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) claims.
The RAF confirmed on Monday that it had issued a "quick reaction alert," deploying Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes from the Lossiemouth base in Scotland to intercept two Russian Tupolev Tu-160s long-range bombers.
The British jets picked up the Russian bombers over the North Sea, about 30 miles (48km) from UK airspace and escorted them away from the area.
"The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea," the RAF said. "At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign UK airspace."
Russia's Defense Ministry reacted to the RAF statement, saying the pair Tu-160s of bombers were on a 13-hour training flight over the Barents, Norwegian and North seas and did not breach international norms.
"All flights by Russian aircraft are performed in strict accordance with international rules for using airspace without infringement on any countries' borders," the ministry said in a statement.
The Soviet-era Tu-160 is the world's largest combat aircraft and has been modernized to carry long-range nuclear cruise missiles. It has yet to be confirmed if any of the Russian planes were armed during the encounter.
Last week, the UK Navy frigate HMS Westminster was ordered to intercept two Russian warships and two supporting vessels passing near UK waters.
Military forces of the UK, as a member of the NATO military alliance, and Russia have had several close contacts over the past months, amid a rise in diplomatic tensions between the two countries. They routinely test reactions with such sorties.
UK Defense Minister Gavin Williamson announced late last year that the RAF was set to deploy four more Typhoon jets to Romania to deter “an increasingly assertive Russia.”
NATO has been patrolling skies over the Baltic Sea since 2004, when the three Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the military alliance but lacked the aviation power to monitor their own airspace.