Two Russian bombers intercepted close to NATO exercise in Norway
Two Eurofighter Typhoon fighters from the British Royal Air Force were scrambled on October 31, 2018, to intercept two Russian strategic bombers Tupolev Tu-160s that were flying over the Norwegian Sea.
“Typhoon fighters were scrambled today as a precautionary measure against a potential incursion into UK area of interest by one or more unidentified aircraft,” a spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense said.
The fighters took off from RAF Lossiemouth air base in Scotland, and were accompanied by an Airbus A330 MRTT Voyager tanker for aerial refueling, according to Russian news agency Interfax, which also reports that the fighter were Tornados, and not Typhoons.
The interception took place several hours after the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the two “Blackjack” bombers would begin a multi-hour flight over the neutral waters of the Barents and Norwegian Sea.
The incident reminds of a very similar situation on September 21, 2018, during which two Eurofighter Typhoons of the Royal Air Force intercepted over the North Sea two Tu-160s that were headed towards Scotland.
Meanwhile, NATO is holding Trident Juncture 2018 exercise in the area. It started on October 25, 2018, and is the biggest of its kind since the end of the Cold War. The exercise includes 150 aircraft and one aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman.
A week before the exercise began, Russian defense minister notified NATO that it would proceed to some missile tests in the Norwegian sea between November 1 and 3, 2018. Avinor, the Norwegian public agency managing airports, reported the Russian tests will be overlapping the airspace of the Alliance maneuvers, reports the AFP.
But the situation is not alarming, according to NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg. “Of course we are going to keep a close eye on what Russia is doing,” says Stoltenberg, adding “but they are operating in international waters and they notified us in a normal way”.
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