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Photos Show RAF Typhoons Intercepting Russian Tu-160 Bombers

(Photo courtesy U.K. Ministry of Defence)The U.K. Ministry of Defence has released photographs showing Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets intercepting a pair of Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers on Thursday near U.K. airspace.

The so-called quick reaction alert aircraft scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, met the two white, supersonic heavy strategic bombers in international airspace and escorted them through the U.K.'s area of interest, according to a press release from the MoD.

The twin-engine Typhoons were refueled by an RAF Voyager aircraft, a variant of the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport, from RAF Brize Norton during the mission, according to the release. Here's what one of the pilots, squadron Leader Jim Calvert of II(AC) Squadron at Lossiemouth, had to say of the incident:

"Given the Royal Air Force’s enduring commitment to secure the UK’s skies, yesterday’s sortie once again proved Typhoon’s capability to successfully scramble and intercept Russian long-range aviation," he said, according to the release.

"Protecting our skies is especially poignant in this 75th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain," he added. "Working together with ground-based radar and air-to-air refuelling aircraft today’s RAF continues to come together as a team to protect our country."

The MoD even plugged a Sky News documentary about the RAF's quick reaction alert, or QRA, capability scheduled to air Sunday, Sept. 13.

The incident is the latest example of Russia flexing its military might abroad. A Russian spy ship -- capable of cutting undersea communications cables -- was reportedly spotted this month off the Eastern seaboard of the U.S.

While some 35 Tupolev Tu-160s were built, only a handful are reportedly operational in the Russian air force. The Tu-160 may be getting more flying time because of the recent Tu-95 crashes that temporarily grounded the fleet of four-engine turboprop-powered aircraft.

Russia wants to develop a next-generation PAK-DA bomber to replace the Tu-160 and the Tu-95.

(Photo courtesy U.K. Ministry of Defence) Show Full Article

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