RAF fighter jets have intercepted a number of Russian military planes flying close to UK airspace.
The Foreign Office said the Russian planes “caused disruption to civil aviation” yesterday, and RAF Typhoons were scrambled to escort them “throughout the time they were in the UK area of interest” – reported to be the English Channel.
The Russian ambassador has now been summoned to explain the incident.
The incident was part of an “increasing pattern of out-of-area operations by Russian aircraft,” she added.
The RAF said long-range search radars detected two Russian Tu-95 “Bears” flying close to UK airspace in the “UK flight information region”.
Fighter jets were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, and RAF Coningsby near Boston, Lincolnshire. Once airborne, the Typhoons were directed to intercept the Russian planes, which were escorted out of the region.
The Typhoons were refuelled in the air during the incident by the RAF’s Voyager aircraft.
An RAF spokesman said: “Yesterday’s mission lasted for over 12 hours; the operations room was both calm and focused. We constantly train for these scenarios so that we are well-rehearsed and ready to maintain the integrity of our airspace.”
He added: “Thanks to our integration with air defence systems across Nato, we were able to begin mission planning early and therefore were ready to act in good time.
“Once ordered to by the Nato Combined Air Operations Centre in Germany, Typhoon quick reaction alert fighters were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth to intercept and identify the aircraft. Integration with our colleagues in the Royal Navy provided additional surveillance coverage and added value to the mission.”
The Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “Russian aircraft manoeuvres yesterday are part of an increasing pattern of out-of-area operations by Russian aircraft.
“While the Russian planes did not enter sovereign UK airspace and were escorted by RAF Typhoons throughout the time they were in the UK area of interest, the Russian planes caused disruption to civil aviation.
“That is why we summoned the Russian Ambassador today to account for the incident.”