Two RAF jets have intercepted a Russian bomber over the north Atlantic. Typhoon interceptors shadowed a Russian Tupolev-95 “Bear” reconnaissance aircraft last Friday.
It is the first time the Â£60m Eurofighter has been scrambled on a genuine alert since it took over defence of Britain’s airspace in June.
The MoD said in a statement: “RAF Typhoons from Numbers 3(F) and XI Squadrons launched to shadow a Russian Bear-H aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean on Friday 17 August 2007.”
The Â£67m fighter jets were officially put on active standby last month, ready to protect the UK from hijacked airliners and other threats from the skies.
A dozen Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft of 3 (Fighter) Squadron are now on round-the-clock active duty at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.
The Typhoon, replacing the RAF’s ageing fleet of Tornado F3 jets, will be at constant readiness to intercept any aircraft thought to be a threat, specifically a September 11-style terrorist attack.
Two Typhoon will be poised 24 hours a day as the designated Quick Reaction Alert force for southern Britain.
Tornado F3 jets based at RAF Leuchars in Scotland will share the same role over the northern UK airspace for some five to six months yet before they too are replaced.
It will be at least another year before the controversial fighter jet is ready for air-to-ground combat operations, which could see squadrons deployed to Afghanistan, RAF chiefs said last month.
The Typhoon was designed during the Cold War, with European leaders eager to outgun the Soviets in the sky.
Britain has ordered 144 Typhoons, which have a maximum speed of mach 2.0 (twice the speed of sound – about 1,500mph) and can accelerate from standing to take-off in less than seven seconds.