QRA 15th January 2018

On the 15th of January 2018 RAF Brize Norton was given an order to scrambled a Voyager aircraft as four unidentified aircraft were flying South West over the Norwegian Sea. Two IL-78 Midas and two Tu-160 Blackjacks. The two IL-78 aircraft turned back towards the Barents Sea and Russia and two Blackjacks carried on south westerly direction. Norwegian Air Force did not scramble.

Press spokesman Lt. Col. Ivar Moen with the Joint Head Quaters says to the Barents Observer that it was considered to scramble Norwegian fighter jets from both Bodø and Ørland air stations, but the wind was too strong.
"We had wind up to 50-60 knots from north of Finnmark to Stadt [on Norway’s west coast]. Also, the direction of the wind was challenging. It was not safe to take off." Moen says.

0822z: RAF Voyager ZZ334 departed from RAF Brize Norton with callsign 'Four November Kilo Six Six' (4NK66) and NATO policing squawk 1321. Although it's callsign was showing as MAD715 on most tracking sites.

4NK66 routed direct to Lossiemouth at FL280 and established a hold over Wick to wait for the Typhoons scrambling out of Lossiemouth.

0926z: QRA North was scrambled from Lossiemouth with two RAF Typhoons, callsigns 'Nine Mike Kilo One Six' (9MK16) and 'Nine Mike Kilo One Seven' (9MK17)
9MK16 - Z**** / **
9MK17 - ZK323 / 323



0945z: 4NK66 exited the holding pattern and headed south east with the two Typhoons.



1024z: Belgian QRA F-16s FA-92 & FA-128 LH01 & 02 scrambled from Florennes.



1043z: French QRA airborne C-135FR 472 MARCOTTE28 with MAGMA flight.



1053z: Two RuAF bombers in international airspace over the North Sea between Denmark & The Netherlands.

1055z:
LH01 & 02 intercept the two RuAF bombers and identify them as Tu-160 Blackjacks, at this point they're heading 290 degrees East to West in the middle of the North Sea between FL270 and FL280.

1100z (Approx): Belgian Air Force identified both aircraft as Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjacks.
Lead aircraft FL270 - callsign 87410 - RF-94102 / 02
Trail aircraft FL280 - callsign 87411 - RF-94104 / 05


©MOD





1101z: RAF Typhoos take over shadowing the two bombers as the Belgian F-16s break off south and divert to Leeuwarden for fuel.

1106z: RuAF bombers turn right heading 335 degrees block FL270-FL280 off the East coast of the UK in international airspace shadowed by the two Typhoons.

1123z: RAF E3CF ZH104 NATO36/MAGIC86 departed Waddington and starts to control the QRA group.


1125z-1143z: Typhoos call the headings back to the RAF ground station 'Hotspur' as 335 degrees, 340 degrees, 360 degrees, 005 degrees, 040 degrees then 360 degrees as the two bombers head up the East coast and towards the Norwegian Sea.

1144z: Mission called off

Approximate routing of 2x RUAF Tu-160s callsigns 87410 & 87411



1500z: RAF Voyager 4NK66 lands back at Brize Norton.


Royal Air Force:
"We can confirm that Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers approaching the UK area of interest. The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea. At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign UK airspace."

QRA 9th February 2017

On the 9th of February 2017 NATO Operations Centre in Germany advised the UK and France that there were six Russian aircraft flying south over the Norwegian Sea. Three IL-78 Midas and three Tu-160 Blackjacks. Four of the aircraft turned back towards the Barents Sea and Russia and two carried on south westerly direction. The RAF scrambled Typhoons from Lossiemouth and a Voyager from Brize Norton for the formation which were heading towards the British area of intrest from the North East.

0757z: RAF Voyager ZZ336 departed from RAF Brize Norton with callsign 'Quebec Nine Romeo Six Two' (Q9R62) and NATO policing squawk 1321.


Q9R62 routed north at FL200 to and established a holding pattern to the north of Lossiemouth.


0947z: QRA North was scrambled from Lossiemouth with two RAF Typhoons, callsigns 'Charlie Nine Sierra Zero Six' (C9S06) and 'Charlie Nine Sierra Zero Seven' (C9S07)
C9S06 - ZJ913 / II   Landed 1205z
C9S07 - ZK334 / A  Landed 1118z

1010z: Q9R62 exited the holding pattern and headed west.


1015z: Two contacts belived to be heading south west between Faroe and Shetlands intercepted and identified as Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-160 'Blackjack'

1020z (Approx): RAF Typhoons identified both aircraft as Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjacks.
Lead aircraft - callsign 42822 - RF-94100 / 10
Trail aircraft - callsign 42823 - RF-94108 / 12

©MOD


1043Z: The two bombers were shadowed by the two Typhoons at FL280 in a loose formation off the coast of the Outer Hebrades.


1100z: French Air Force (Armée de l'air) C-135FR callsign MARCOT28, serial 740 gets airborne along with FAF9025/ROXANE02 E3CF serial 203 was retasked to head towards the Brittany area.


1114z: QRA South was scrambled with two Typhoons, callsigns 'Three Victor Golf Four Six' (3VG46) and 'Three Victor Golf Four Seven' (3VG47)
3VG46 - ZJ929 / DL Squawk 1326
3VG47 - ZJ917 / DG Squawk 1327 landed 1534z


©Matt Short

©Matt Short


3VG46 & 47 with HOTSPUR just after departure.

1123z: Bomber formation off the west coast of Ireland.

Both Coningsby Typhoons spotted over north Cornwall.
©Jon Kershaw


1157z: Q9R62 established a hold in AARA12


1230z: Two French Air Force (Armée de l'air) Dassault Mirage 2000 5-Fs were scrambled from Lorient and intercepted the two Blackjacks to the west of Brittany, one of which was serial 59 / 2-EV. The Mirages escorted them until around 1310z then Dassualt Rafaels scrambled from Mont-de-Marsan airbase to shadow them.



©Armée de l'air / Defense



Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire) had already scrambled its F/A-18 Hornets along with a KC-130H serial TK. 10-06 which was holding just to the north east of Gijon.


The group turn back north.


1349z: Bomber formation heading north west over the Celtic Sea.

1351z: RAF Voyager Q9R62 starts to head back north.


1410Z: 3VG46 & 3VG47 both RTB. ©Jon Kershaw


3VG47 with Swanwick burning fuel over East Anglia



1418z: Bomber formation tracking north past the west coast of Ireland again.

1420z & 1427z: QRA North was scrambled from Lossiemouth for the second time,
callsigns 'Charlie Nine Sierra Zero Eight' (C9S08) and 'Charlie Nine Sierra Zero Nine' (C9S09).

C9S08 - ZJ916 / S  Landed 1550z
C9S09 - ZK334 / A  Landed 1426z

©Niall Paterson

©Niall Paterson


1501z: Bomber formation pass west of the Outer Hebrades heading north.

1526z: RAF Voyager Q9R62 starts to head back south and holds just north of Lossiemouth.


1542z: Q9R62 is stood down and given a regular squawk code.

1725z: Q9R62 RTB


Q9R62 descending with Brize Director.

Estimated route of the two Russian Blackjacks



Royal Air Force:
“We can confirm that quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers while they were in the UK area of interest. At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace.”

QRA 16th November 2016

On the 16th of November 2016 report were coming through that the Royal Norwegian Air Force had scrambled QRA F-16s from Bodo for eight contacts in the Norwegian area of intrest.

1945z: Russian strategic HF active with very clear voice traffic heard in western Europe.

RUAF callsigns: 72151, 72152, 72153, 28455, 28456 and 28457
RF-94127 / 11 Tu-95MS
RF-????? Tu-95MS
RF-????? Tu-95MS
RF-????? IL-78 Midas
RF-????? IL-78 Midas
RF-????? IL-78 Midas
Escorted by two unspecified interceptor or fighter aircraft.


2015z: QRA RAF Voyarger MRTT ZZ333 callsign 'Seven Zulu November Six Zero' (7ZN60) departed RAF Brize Norton with the usual tanker NATO policing squawk of 1321. After departure it routed up the west coast of the UK and as it crossed abeam the town of Keswick it routed direct to Lossiemouth.

7ZN60 climbed initially to FL200 then climbed further to FL220 just south of Edinburgh and reached overhead Lossiemouth at 2126z, then descended to FL190.


2130z: QRA North was scrambled with two Typhoons, callsigns 'India Four Foxtrot Zero One' (I4F01) and 'India Four Foxtrot Zero Two' (I4F02)
I4F01 - ZK323 / C
I4F02 - ZK345 / EP




2245z: Danish QRA F-16s airborne

2309z (Approx): At least two Russian Air Force Tu-95MS Bear H intercepted off the north west coast of the Outer Hebradies at FL240 while enroute to the Mediterranean loaded with ALCMs.


2319z: I4F02 joins 7ZN60 to take on fuel while I4F01 is with the bomber group.


0005z: 7ZN60 was tasked to RTB.


At least 1 Portuguese AF QRA F-16 15117 callsign BULLET21 was also scrambled.

QRA 22nd September 2016

On the 22nd of September 2016 the RAF scrambled QRA north from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland for two unknown contacts which were heading towards the British area of intrest, the same direction as back in February, from the North East (Norwegian Sea). Norwegian air force F-16 from Bodø intercepted

0807z: QRA RAF Voyarger MRTT ZZ336 callsign 'Romeo Four Sierra Six Four' (R4S64) departed RAF Brize Norton with the usual tanker NATO policing squawk of 1321. After departure it routed direct to Lossiemouth.


R4S64 climbed to FL350 within 30 minutes of departing and reached overhead Lossiemouth at 0859z then descended to FL200 and went into a circular hold just off the coast near Wick to join up with the scrmabled Typhoons. Air traffic control routed some civilian traffic away from the group before they headed north west over Kirkwall.

0915z: QRA North was scrambled with two Typhoons, callsigns 'Yankee Five Romeo One One' (Y5R11) and 'Yankee Five Romeo One Two' (Y5R12)
Y5R11 - ZK338 / FF
Y5R12 - ZJ916 / S

Y5R11 - ZK338 / FF ©Niall Paterson






1009z (Approx): Two Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjacks intercepted off the north west coast of the Shetland Islands at FL280.
Lead aircraft - callsign 20814 - RF-94109 / 12
Trail aircraft - callsign 20815 - RF-94111 / 18
©Crown Copyright


1102z: R4S64 and both Typhoons started heading back east before entering Irish airspace.


1110z: Priority ground movement at Coningsby - QRA south airborne with callsigns 'Nine Alpha Foxtrot Four One' (9AF41) and 'Nine Alpha Foxtrot Four Two' (9AF41) they both climbed to FL390.
9AF41 - ZJ937 / DT
9AF42 - ZJ942 / DH

9AF41 ZJ937 / DT ©G.Webb

9AF41 ZJ937 / DT ©G.Webb

9AF42 - ZJ942 / DH ©G.Webb

As they were crossing central UK 9AF41 reported a problem and started squawking 7700 and decended to FL120. Eventually the problem was resolved and continued with the task.


1130z: Reports of a sonic boom heard over an area stretching from Arran to Stranraer. This could have been Y5R41 (one of the Lossiemouth Typhoons) being ordered to return to base then being told to continue with the Voyager due to the problem with 9AF41 (ZJ937) one of the Coningsby jets. Eventually the Typhoon was ordered to return to Lossiemouth at around 1140z once the problem was resolved. NATO37 RAF E-3 Sentry ZH103 was retasked to the on going mission.
©Planesonthenet


R4S64 started heading south at FL290. Then joined up with the two Typhoons launched from Coningsby earlier. Southern QRA did not intercept the two Blackjacks.


Four French Air Force Dassault Rafaels were scrambled from Mont-de-Marsan air base, two of which were armed. The French jets intercepted the two bombers just off the coast of Brittany.
©Armée de l'Air

©Armée de l'Air


1356z: The Voyager headed back north towards Scotland.


1423z: QRA North was scrambled for the second time, callsigns 'Yankee Five Romeo One Three' (Y5R13) and 'Yankee Five Romeo One Four' (Y5R14).
Y5R13 - ZK344 / Unmarked
Y5R14 - Z???? / ?
©Iain Rollo


Spanish air force also scrambled jets to intercept the two Blackjacks, it is not clear where the two bombers headed after this.




1625z: R4S64 arrived back at Brize Norton after 8 hours and 18 minutes airborne.

QRA Practice 23rd March 2016

On the 23rd of March 2016 the RAF scrambled Quick Reaction Alert for an exersise with a Cobham Aviation Falcon 20.

0645z: The Cobham Aviation Dassault Falcon 20 G-FRAW callsign Rushton 99 departed from it's base at Durham Tees Valley to position to Prestwick.

0845z FRA99 departed Prestwick and headed West.

1030z Northern QRA was scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth with two Typhoons, departing as 'Zero India Yankee Two One' (0IY21) and 'Zero India Yankee Two Two' (0IY22) and headed South West towards FRA99.
0IY21 - ZK319 / Y
0IY22 - ZK328 / EB

For the purpose of the exersise, the Falcon 20 was reported as a Boeing 777 of 'Allied Airlines' registration N770AN.
Full comms recorded here...

Tanker support was also airborne as TARTAN31 Voyager ZZ330.


0IY21 landed at Lossiemouth at around 1230z with 0IY22 landing at around 1435z after some general handling.

QRA 17th February 2016

On the 17th of February 2016 the RAF scrambled their QRA for two unknown contacts which were heading towards the British area of intrest from the North East (Norwegian Sea)

1115z: RAF Voyager ZZ333 departed from RAF Brize Norton with callsign 'November One Charlie Six Four' (N1C64) and NATO policing squawk 1321.


N1C64 routed north at FL300 to Air to Air Refuelling Area 14 (AARA14)
QRA North based at RAF Lossiemouth was not called upon to scramble.

N1C64 remained in AARA14 until 1319z and then started to route south at FL270.

1340z QRA South was scrambled with two Typhoons, callsigns 'Two Zulu Oscar Four One' (2ZO41) and 'Two Zulu Oscar Four Two' (2ZO42)
2ZO41 - ZJ919 / DC
2ZO42 - ZK301 / D
Both aircraft pictured here departing Coningsby (17/2/16) after being given the scramble call.
©Sarah Dudley

©Graham Baglin


Both Typhoons departed and climbed to FL400, routed south west towards Cardiff and then just north of Cornwall.

1356z: Very clear RUAF stratigic comms were picked up on 8131kHz with aircraft callsigns 44731 & 44732.


1411z: N1C64 was directed to establish in area 10 west and 2ZO42 was instructed to decend to FL280.



1500z (Approx): RAF Typhoons identified both aircraft as Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjacks.
Lead aircraft - callsign 44731 - RF-94101 / 03
Trail aircraft - callsign 44732 - RF-94104 / 05

©Crown copyright




1531z: French Air Force QRA was airbourne at this point and checked in with UK forawrd air controller with callsigns Mastiff 01 (FAF Rafael) and Maraud 03 (FAF Mirage 2000) Both French QRA jets pictured with RF-94104 below.


This is a map showing the approximate route taken by the two Russian bombers. They both departed from Olenya air base in the Murmansk oblast in north west Russia and were at FL280.


This map shows the approximate route of the bombers down the English Channel.


1524z (Approx): The two aircraft then turned west to head back down the channel.

1600z: RAF Voyager N1C64 entered AARA 10 West again.

1634z: The first QRA Typhoon landed back at Coningsby.

1650z: N1C64 started to head back north up the east coast of the UK and then headed for AARA 14 for the second time.

1900z N1C64 returned to RAF Brize Norton