The Royal Air Force (RAF) was called upon to carry out a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) scramble to intercept 2 Russian Air Force TU-160M “Blackjack” aircraft on Thursday 10th September the UK Goverment haas revealed.
The QRA consisted of 2 RAF Eurofighter aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth backed up with Air to Air refuelling from an RAF Voyager aircraft from Brize Norton.
The aircraft were intercepted and viusually identified flying in international air space but close to the UK coast. They were escorted by the Typhoons until they were clear of the UK.
The Tupolev TU-160M Backjack is Russia’s premier long range nuclear bomber which has recently been put back into production. Its less common in international airspace than the familiar TU-95 “Bear” however the Bear’s recently suffered a recently grounding due to increasing number of accidents largely due to its age and poor maintenance brought about by heavy financial constraints in the Kremlin.
The blackjack is a 4 Samara NK-321 jet powered bomber capable of flying at twice the speed of the sound (Mach 2.05) and carries the latest Hypersonic KH90 Air to Surface Cruise Missiles (ASM). It is very similair in design to the Rockwell B1 Bomber of the United States Air Force (USAF). It entered service in 1987, towards the end of the Cold War as a replacement for the TU-95. There are currently 16 in service with the Russian Air Force.