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British Fighter Jets Intercept Russian Strategic Bombers


An RAF Typhoon fighter aircraft (left) flies close to a Russian strategic Tupolev TU-160 bomber in September 2015.

Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) has scrambled two fighter jets to intercept Russian strategic bombers near U.K. airspace.

The RAF said on January 15 that it sent Typhoon aircraft from the Lossiemouth base in Scotland on a "quick reaction alert" as two Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bombers approached Britain.

"The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly-nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea," the air force said. "At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign U.K. airspace."

Russia's Defense Ministry said the pair of bombers flew over the Barents, Norwegian, and North seas during a 13-hour training mission that covered neutral waters, in line with international norms.

"All flights by Russian aircraft are performed in strict accordance with international rules for using airspace without infringement on any countries' borders," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the bombers executed midair refueling during the mission, and were escorted by Belgian F-16 fighters as well as British Typhoon fighters at different stages of their journey.

Encounters between Russian and NATO warplanes have increased as Moscow has demonstrated its resurgent military might.

Russia also has increased its navy's presence in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and other areas.

Last week, the HMS Westminster, a Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate, was ordered to intercept two Russian corvettes and two supporting vessels that neared U.K. waters en route to their Baltic home base.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax

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