More NATO fighter jets are being scrambled to monitor and intercept Russian planes than at any time since the end of the Cold War as tensions continue to rise.
Around 780 deployments were made from European military bases last year in response to Russian aircraft, compared to just 410 in 2015. British planes have been scrambled in numerous operations involving the RAF, which has pilots in the Quick Reaction Alert force ready to launch 24-hours a Incidents have seen Russian bomber planes approach the UK several times, including when Blackjack bombers spent more than five hours skirting British airspace in February. Russian planes are not known to have violated international regulations or entered any EU nation’s sovereign airspace, flying instead into “identification zones” in international airspace that are monitored for security. A typical response sees fighter jets launched by the nearest country to visually identify the foreign aircraft and ascertain whether it is a threat, frequently flying alongside until the Russian plane breaks away and turns back.day. A further 90 alerts were sparked by non-Russian planes in 2016, such as commercial flights that lost contact with air traffic control, according to officials at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where the US Air Forces in Europe are headquartered. It brings the total number of deployments to 870 in the year, which saw NATO increase its air policing missions after noting a “steady increase in Russian military air activity”.