In an episode reminiscent of the Cold War, Tupolev Tu-95 (nicknamed ‘Bear’ in NATO nomenclature) were spotted flying past the Irish and English coastlines yesterday.
These dots on radar screens prompted the scrambling of British Typhoon warplanes to escort the raiders. It transpired that the bogeys were flying with their transponders off, which means that commercial airliners would not be able to identify them.
After being spooked by the Typhoons, the Bears turned and flew back the way they came. It is understood the Russian aircraft did not actually enter either Irish or English airspace. Neither did British officials inform Irish civil aviation of the Russian incursion.
Britain has summoned the Russian Ambassador to explain the incident.
The Tupolev Tu-95 is a four engine turbo-prop strategic bomber aircraft first flown in 1952, and it has the capability to deploy nuclear ordnance.