Two Russian TU-160 Blackjack jets were intercepted by NATO fighter planes as they flew from the direction of Norway to northern Spain and back. The report of the NATO jets scrambling comes amid heightened tension between the West and Russia, after the U.S. broke off military cooperation with Moscow over Syria.
Fighter jets were from four European countries — France, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom. The incident reportedly took place on Sept. 22, but details only emerged recently after a statement (in French) by the French ministry of defense which called it an air policing mission.
According to the statement, Norway first detected the two Blackjack bombers to the north and scrambled two F-16 fighters to intercept the Russian jets towards the north of Scotland. Britain's Royal Air Force sent Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth as the Russian planes flew to the west of Shetland. Later, RAF said the Russian jets did not enter U.K. air space.
Two French Rafale fighter planes followed the Russian bombers as they skirted the west of Ireland, followed by two other Rafale jets. Finally, Spain sent two F-18 fighters to intercept the TU-160 planes north of Bilbao.
Russia later received a complaint from Iceland that TU-160 Blackjack bombers had flown too close to civil airliners on the same day, BBC reported.
Earlier this year, two Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft were scrambled to intercept two Russian TU-160 Blackjacks that were flying toward British airspace.