The RAF was forced to scramble early this morning (Thursday, September 6th) to head off eight Russian bombers, it has emerged. Four of its F3 Tornados were hurriedly launched to meet the Russian aircraft, which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said were eight Tupolev Tu-95 Bear bombers. The Tornados, together with a midair refuelling aircraft, were launched from RAF Leeming in Yorkshire and RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire in accordance with standard procedure. The Russian planes had previously been tracked by the Norwegian air force. Responding to reports that the aircraft had been heading towards the UK when the bombers performed a u-turn and headed back for Russia, an MoD spokesperson said: "They were not heading towards British airspace."
The incident comes at a time of strained diplomatic relations between Russia and the UK, with Moscow's refusal to extradite Alexander Litvinenko murder suspect Andrei Lugovoi frustrating the Foreign Office. Last month Russian president Vladimir Putin announced his country's air force planned on resuming long-range bomber patrol flights for the first time since they ceased in 1992. The move is part of the Kremlin's more aggressive foreign policy stance taken so far in 2007, which has already seen it engaged in arguments with neighbours Georgia and Belarus and with perennial antagonists Nato and the US.
Have you read a report recently about Russia scrambling fighters to ward off a British threat of this kind? Russia is baiting World War III in the crazed, pathological manner of a regime gone amok.
Saturday, September 08, 2007