February 10, 2017
RAF Typhoon jets were scrambled to meet two Russian Tu-160 bombers off the coast of the Shetland Islands, a northern island archipelago off mainland Scotland.
The Typhoon jets were joined off Scotland by a Voyager tanker from RAF Brize Norton.
A Royal Air Force spokesman said:
“We can confirm that quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers while they were in the UK area of interest.
At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace.”
It is understood that the Russian aircraft flew around the top of Scotland before passing along the west coast of Ireland and France and then turned around near the Spanish coast.
The aircraft, understood to be Tu-160’s, are often referred to as ‘Blackjack’ in the west and are supersonic strategic bombers. The Blackjack is also the world’s largest combat aircraft and has the heaviest take off weight of any military aircraft besides transports.
The aircraft can carry 40,000 kg (88,185 lb) of weaponry including nuclear missiles. Sightings of the Tu-160 are incredibly rare as there only 5 combat capable examples in service.