5 OCTOBER 2016 • 7:04PM
Royal Air Force Typhoons were among jets scrambled by four Nato air forces after Russian bombers flew a long-range mission along Europe’s western seaboard last month.
Norwegian, British, French, and Spanish fighters were scrambled in succession when two bombers flew from the Arctic to the Bay of Biscay.
The incident, which occurred on September 22 but only recently came to light in a French defence ministry statement, comes at a time of heightened tension between Russia and the West.
The episode began when Norway scrambled two F-16 fighters to respond to a pair of Tui160 Blackjack bombers flying toward northern Scotland on the morning of September 22.
CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Royal Air Force Typhoons flying from RAF Lossiemouth then met and escorted the bombers as they flew west of Shetland.
The bombers then skirted the west coast of Ireland and were met by French Rafale jets off the coast of Brittany.
Finally Spanish F-18 jets were scrambled as the bombers approached Bilbao, before turning around and tracing the same route home. The RAF said the two aircraft did not violate UK airspace.
The RAF says it scrambles jets in response to probing flights by Russian aircraft several times a year.
Tu-160 Blackjacks are supersonic strategic bombers designed to carry both nuclear and conventional bombs.
In November, RAF Typhoons intercepted two Blackjacks as they skirted UK airspace on an 8000-mile mission around Europe to fire missile at targets in Syria.
The event described by the French defence ministry occurred on the same day Iceland complained a flight of Russian bombers had come dangerously close to a civilian airliner.
The Icelandic Foreign Ministry said three Tupolev bombers flew 6,000-8,000 feet directly beneath an Icelandic jet en route to Stockholm. The bombers had switched off their transponders, making them undetectable to the airliner’s radar.