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RAF intercepts Russian aircraft 99 times in ten years

Quick reaction Typhoons at Lossiemouth and Coningsby are on permanent high alert.

RAF fighter jets have intercepted Russian military planes near UK airspace 99 times in the last ten years, it has emerged.

Quick reaction Typhoons based at Lossiemouth and Coningsby are on permanent high alert and ready to fly in minutes.

They regularly intercept Russian bombers and fighters flying close to the UK, although the number of incidents each year has fallen.

Russia is the only foreign air force the RAF has intercepted planes from for more than a decade.

Intercepted: RAF Typhoon flying alongside larger Russian Bear bomber.
Intercepted: RAF Typhoon flying alongside larger Russian Bear bomber. © MOD/Crown Copyright

The number of incidents rose dramatically in 2007 when President Vladimir Putin reinstated a policy of carrying out regular long-range patrols.

They are partly training exercises and partly a test of the UK's air defences, it is understood.

The MoD has not considered any of the recent fly-pasts a threat and no Russian aircraft have entered UK airspace. However, they present a potential danger to civilian planes as their pilots do not communicate with air traffic controllers.

https://infogram.com/russian_jets-1gew2v800nj8mnj | default

An RAF spokesman said: "RAF Typhoon fighters stand ready to scramble to intercept unknown aircraft approaching our shores.

"Russian or civilian it matters not to us, the RAF are responsible for guarding the skies around Britain - it is what we do."

There have been at least two incidents so far this year.

During the most recent, RAF Typhoons and French aircraft intercepted two TU-160 "Blackjack" bombers near Shetland.

In January, two Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth intercepted another pair of Blackjacks flying within 35 miles of UK airspace.

RAF fighters have also been scrambled to emergencies involving civilian aircraft 75 times since 2007.

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