It’s a scene classically reminiscent of Cold War days or a Tom Clancy novel from the same: two weeks ago, Royal Air Force Tornados shadowed a pair of Russian Tu-160 Blackjack heavy bombers as they penetrated British airspace and nonchalantly cruised over the Scottish isles. RAF officials released photos of the intercept today.
Apparently, the Russians have been doing quite a bit of this over the past year. “People may be surprised to know our crews have successfully scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft on more than 20 occasions since the start of 2009,” said RAF Wing Commander Mark Gorringe. The Russian bombers turned around just short of the coast of Ireland.
The story quotes an unnamed British source saying the Blackjack sorties are an example of Russian saber-rattling. An article in UK’s Daily Express cites a more practical concern: a midair collision between the unannounced visiting bombers and civilian airliners in the crowded skies above the North Atlantic.