The two bombers, built to carry nuclear weapons, were flying a direct route on Wednesday north from Russia’s Kola Peninsula towards the Bear Island in the northern part of the Barents Sea. North of the Bear Island, they turned around southwest towards the Norwegian Sea and continued south towards the North Sea.
“They were flying so far out from the coast that it was not adequate to identify them,” says Press Officer with Joint Command Headquarters, Lieutenant Colonel Ivar Moen to BarentsObserver.
The TU-95s were escorted by a pair of MiG-31interceptors.
As the Russian military aircrafts were nearing UK airspace off the north-east coast of Scotland, Royal Air Force sent up two Tyhoon fighter jets to investigate, report the Express quoting a Ministry of Defense spokesman saying “After contact with the fighters from RAF, the Russians turned and flew in the direction of Scandinavia.”
From the Netherlands, two F-16s from Volkel air force base intercepted the two Russian heavy bombers and escorted away from the Netherlands until they departed. Major Wilko Ter Horst with the Dutch defense department says to Associated Press “That’s why we scrambled, that’s why the Danish scrambled and the English scrambled, to ensure to insure they fly out of our air space.”
Danish Air Force confirms that they scrambled two F-16 fighter jets. Press officer with the air force command, Kathrine Vase, says to Danmarks Radio that thir F-16s escorted the Russians until they approached UK airspace and RAF Typhoons took over.
Neither on the bombers’ northbound course over the North Sea towards the Barents Sea via the Norwegian Sea, the Norwegians decided not to scramble their F-16s.
“They were identified by other nations when they were on their southernmost part of the mission,” Lieutenant Colonel Ivar Moen tells BarentsObserver. He says Norway’s Joint Command Headquarters makes evaluation of each single mission before they decide to scramble F-16 or not.
“In this case they were well outside the coast,” says Moen.
In 2012, Norwegian fighter jets were scrambled 41 times and identified a total of 71 Russian airplanes.
Russian Air Force Colonel Igor Klimov says to RIA Novosti the mission exceeded 16 hours and the aircrafts had then flown some 12,000 kilometers.
TU-95 are equipped with X-55 air-to-surface cruise missiles that can carry conventional or nuclear warheads. The planes are old and a icon of the Cold War. Flights outside Russian territory was halted after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but were resumed again in 2010.