Royal Air Force fighter jets intercepted a trio of Russian military operating in the skies and sea over Northern Europe as MPs warned the formation showed a “clear escalation” in Russia’s aggressive behaviour.
The RAF revealed that Typhoon fighter jets, from 6 Sqn, RAF Lossiemouth, on Thursday intercepted the Russian IL-38 ‘MAY’ Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which was being escorted by two SU-27 Flanker B Fighters and operating alongside a Russian Oscar-class submarine in the Baltic Sea.
The RAF said this was the first time in recent years that they had seen and intercepted a ‘MAY’ as it transited towards the West.
The Russian formation was then monitored as it flew through the international airspace, to ensure the safety of other airspace users, as the Russian Military aircraft had not filed flight plans in accordance with standard international practice. An RAF source told The Daily Telegraph that the fact the Russians had not submitted flight plans to let others know they were airborne “can be a risk to all aviation”.
“It’s a big game for them where they say ‘we’ll do what we like, when we like’.”
This intercept follows an earlier interception at the start of the week when the Typhoons were again airborne to monitor Russian SU-27 Flankers as they transited through Lithuanian controlled international airspace.
Meanwhile, just last week the US and UK accused Russia of firing a missile in space "with the characteristics of a weapon", as Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, head of the UK's Space Directorate, warned Russia’s behaviour threatened “the peaceful use of space”.
Tobias Ellwood, the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said: “Russian military air and sea skirmishes around the UK are now regular events but this is a clear escalation and simply be could be Putin exhibiting increased confidence after securing an extension to his presidency.
"Or something more sinister is about to unfold in response to UK’s involvement in Eastern Europe ops. And he’s raising tensions closer to the UK.”