As tensions over Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border heat up, the British military was forced to scramble fighters to intercept Russian military planes headed toward England on two straight days.
According to The Associated Press, the U.K.’s Royal Air Force announced on Wednesday that Typhoon fighter jets “intercepted and escorted” four Russian aircraft as they were approaching British territory.
“The Typhoon jets took off from British air force bases in Lossiemouth, northeast Scotland, and they were joined by a Voyager air-to-air refueling tanker launched from Oxfordshire, England,” the AP reported.
According to the BBC, the Russian aircraft included two Tupolev Tu-95s and two Tupolev Tu-142s.
The Tu-95 is a strategic bomber while the Tu-142 is used in reconnaissance and anti-submarine rules.
The planes were intercepted north of Scotland and shadowed by the Typhoon jets.
The Royal Air Force also noted the planes didn’t enter British airspace at any time.
On Thursday, however, the U.K. was again forced to scramble jets up to intercept two Russian bombers approaching its airspace, Bloomberg reported.
In addition, according to Britain’s Sky News, Russia’s defense ministry released footage taken by the crew of one of the Russian Tu-95s from Wednesday.
It shows the planes involved in an aerial refueling operation just before Britain’s Typhoon fighters arrived
The Wednesday incident was played down somewhat by the Royal Air Force, which noted it often intercepts planes that approach the “U.K. area of interest.”
For instance, in November of last year, Britain launched jets to intercept Russian strategic bombers approaching the area. Again, the aircraft were escorted out of the area. Again, they didn’t enter U.K. airspace.
Officials maintained these actions are routine; Russian military planes entering the zone of international airspace that Britain has responsibility for don’t routinely talk to air traffic control, thus posing a hazard.
That said, this didn’t happen for two straight days in a row in November — and tensions were significantly lower at that point. Considering those factors, this feels anything but routine.