RAF Typhoons follow the Bear

Thanks to the Royal Air Force for releasing some great Crown Copyright images of a quick reaction alert mission conducted by its Leuchars-based 6 Sqn on 23 April.

A pair of Eurofighter Typhoons were launched “to intercept two unknown aircraft approaching the NATO Air Policing Area from the north,” the service says. It was probably no great surprise to the pilots involved that these turned out to be Russian Tu-95 ‘Bear H’ strategic bombers, conducting a routine training sortie in international airspace.

Bear pair

Supported by an A330 Voyager tanker from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, the Typhoons followed the Bears for some time, before handing them over to Royal Danish Air Force F-16s as the Russian aircraft headed towards Norwegian airspace.


The Tu-95 remains a really impressive looking beast, despite its age. Russia’s air force has an active fleet of around 58 of the type, according to our MiliCAS database.

It’s worth noting that the RAF’s northern QRA response time should theoretically get a little bit shorter from the middle of this year, as its Scottish-based Typhoons are being relocated from Leuchars near Edinburgh to Lossiemouth near Inverness. And we can probably expect the odd Bear or two to test out that theory not too long after the switch takes place.


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

11 Responses to RAF Typhoons follow the Bear

  1. Lizzie T 25 April, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    So much for the Typhoons getting into the air to ‘intercept’ the enemy and yes, thank you to the Typhoon pilot (s) for superb photos, but were the Typhoons armed and if so, with what? Our planes can shoot photos but have they got armaments with which to shoot?

    • Craig Hoyle 26 April, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Yes, they are armed, Lizzie, otherwise they wouldn’t provide much of a deterrent! I can’t see the load-out from the any of the supplied pics, but as visual identification is required, they’d have been carrying ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missiles (rather than AMRAAMs also) and their internal cannon. But QRA never comes to that, of course.

    • Steve 6 May, 2014 at 8:35 am #

      If you zoom-in the picture you can make out the under wing missiles and fuel tanks.

  2. Thad Beier 26 April, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Is that Typhoon small or far away?

  3. Peter Bos 28 April, 2014 at 8:16 am #

    My Cyrillic is not that great but I just need to find out if the Russians have a sense of humour.
    Why are there the letters BBC written large on the tail of that bear?

    Were they trying to make the news? Are they surrendering by press statement? Are those flyboys enjoying Top Gear? What?

    • Enrique 29 April, 2014 at 6:59 am #

      BBC = VVS = Air force, funny coincindence though

    • Rank 1 May, 2014 at 1:57 am #

      Good observation Peter. Did you also notice the letters CNN ? Is that a coincidence as well? I’m sure the Russians have a sense of humour.

      • Bear 1 May, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

        The words on the tail are ‘VVS ROCCNN’ or ‘Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily Rossii’ which stands for ‘Russian air force’.

  4. prom000 4 May, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Those are the bears built in the late 80s and early 90s.

  5. Yurii 13 July, 2014 at 4:04 am #

    Actually not “N”, it is the equivalent to an “i” in English.
    “Военно-Воздушные Силы РОССИИ”:

    Word-for-word meaning is:
    Военно – Military
    Воздушные – Air
    Силы – Force

    H is the equivalent to ‘N’
    B is ‘V’; P is ‘R’; and C is ‘S’ in Russian.

  6. Yurii 13 July, 2014 at 4:13 am #

    Of course, it does make you wonder: whenever a BBC News crew is visiting Russia, do people see the “VVS/BBC” on their vehicles, clothing and gear, and wonder “Why does the Air Force have a news crew?” ;-)

Leave a Reply