My daily trawl of the UK’s Hansard publications threw out an interesting snippet this morning, with an answer in the House of Lords revealing the number of times the Royal Air Force has scrambled quick reaction alert fighters due to Russian activity within the last four years.
2009 – 11
2010 – 11
2011 – 10
2012 – 6 (as of 1 July)
Sadly we don’t know the exact split of near-visiting types, but they have included the mighty Tu-95 “Bear” (shown with a Typhoon in the Crown Copyright image above) and the more menacing Tu-160 “Blackjack” (flanked by a Tornado F3 in the Crown Copyright picture below).
Eurofighter Typhoons are now solely responsible for standing “Q” in the UK, from their bases at RAF Leuchars in Scotland (which previously had Tornado F3s, prior to their retirement in 2011) and Coningsby in Lincolnshire. Others are currently held at short readiness at RAF Northolt to protect London during the Olympics, the opening ceremony for which is on 27 July.