UK boasts of securing its skies from ‘aggression’… by peeking at Russian bombers in int’l airspace
Two Russian Tu-160 (NATO reporting name Blackjack) supersonic strategic bombers flew through international airspace over the North Sea on Thursday. “The flight lasted over 14 hours. During the flight, the crews of the strategic Tu-160 bombers performed aerial refueling,” the Russian Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The planes never violated the airspace of other countries, the Russian military stressed, and were sticking to all the rules of international airspace usage. The ministry said the bombers were “escorted” by British fighters “at some points” of their route.
Yet the encounter, which is quite routine during military training flights, was praised in the UK as another decisive victory against “Russian aggression.” While the Tu-160 planes did not even get close to British airspace, the Royal Air Force (RAF) and UK’s Ministry of Defence trumpeted hard about their resounding success.
“Russian bombers probing UK airspace is another reminder of the very serious military challenge that Russia poses us today,” Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said in a statement.
Britain “will not hesitate to continually defend our skies from acts of aggression,” the officials stressed, adding that “once again the rapid reactions of our RAF have demonstrated how vital our Armed Forces are in protecting Britain.”
.@RoyalAirForce Typhoons scrambled to monitor two Russian bombers today. Def Sec Gavin Williamson: "Russian bombers probing UK airspace is another reminder of the very serious military challenge that Russia poses us today." pic.twitter.com/GImHg0wybz— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) September 20, 2018
In fairness, the RAF has something to be proud of this time, since it apparently got close enough to Russian planes to take pictures. It is certainly an achievement, given some earlier ‘intercepts,’ when RAF pilots actually didn’t even lay eyes on the pesky Russian planes.
It remained unclear, however, how exactly a flight in international airspace can be deemed “an act of aggression,” since the UK acknowledged that Russian bombers did not violate its “sovereign airspace.” The Russian aircraft allegedly only flew through some sort of “UK’s area of interest” in the international skies, according to the statement, and were allegedly “not talking to air traffic agencies,” which prompted the so-called “intercept.”
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