What are the Russian bombers Tu-142 Bear-F and Tu-142 Bear-J and why have been they in Scottish airspace?

British fighter jets in the present day intercepted two Russian bombers in Scottish airspace and NATO’s Northern Air Police space.

Packed with communications and reconnaissance tools, the ‘Bear Bombers’ flew north of the Shetland Islands, prompting RAF Typhoons to scramble from RAF Lossiemouth.

The air drive made a “successful interception”, monitoring the flight path of the Russian Tu-142 Bear-F and Tu-142 Bear-J plane as they flew overhead “to avoid any possible threat to the British territory’.

But what are the Russian bombers and what were they doing in Scottish airspace?

Here’s everything you need to know about the Russian Bear Bombers.

British fighter jets today intercepted two Russian bombers north of Scotland and within NATO’s Northern Air Police area. Pictured: An RAF Typhoon (left) follows a Russian Tupolev Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft this morning

Image released by the Ministry of Defense shows a Russian Tu-142. Royal Air Force pilots from RAF Lossiemouth today launched Typhoon fighters to intercept two Russian bombers

What are the Russian Tu-142 bombers?

The Russian Tu-142 bombers are Soviet-era reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft that have been in military use since 1972 and are still used by the Russian Navy.

Filled with communications and reconnaissance equipment, they are adept at picking out submarines and then knocking them out with bombs and cannons.

Over the years operators have developed a number of variants including the Bear-F and the Bear-J which today fly north of Shetland.

The variants are approximately 53.08 m (174 ft 2 in) long with a wingspan of 50 m (164 ft 1 in) and can fly up to 925 km/h.

The Tu-142 Beer-F is a dedicated anti-submarine aircraft developed in the early 1970s around the reconnaissance and destination aircraft, the Tu-95RC.

The tail turret of the aircraft is fitted with a pair of AM-23 cannons – guns about an inch wide.

The Bear-F also carries anti-submarine torpedoes, anti-ship torpedoes, depth charges and up to eight anti-ship missiles.

This makes it a versatile maritime strategic bomber capable of dealing damage to a range of possible targets.

The Tu-142 Bear-J is the western reporting name for the Tu-142MR Orel – the Eagle.

It is based on the Bear F airframe but has unique systems, with changes to the ventral fairing, nose radome and tail antenna.

This variant serves as a command post and communication platform to talk to submarines underwater.

It was also designed specifically as a doomsday aircraft, created to communicate between naval headquarters and a fleet of ballistic submarines in the event of nuclear war.

The Bear-J was originally ordered in response to the Cold War US Navy’s own bid to produce an aircraft that could reliably communicate back and forth in the event of Armageddon.

The R that distinguishes it is an abbreviation of retranslyat – meaning “communication plane.”

But along with transmitting data, the plane is supplied with two Gryazev/Schipunov GSh-23 twin-barrelled weapons mounted on its tail – a 23mm cannon that may fireplace at round 3,000-3,400 rpm.

It additionally contains jammers and flares to disrupt the enemy.

The first two plane have been examined in 1986 and stay in service with Russian forces.

An RAF Typhoon, left, oversees a Russian Tupolev Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) plane

Handout picture issued by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) of an RAF Typhoon monitoring a Russian Tupolev Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) plane

Why have been they in Scottish airspace?

Over the years, comparable incidents have occurred in British and Norwegian airspace, which can present a clue as to what the planes have been as much as.

In March 2020, two Tu-142s have been noticed approaching UK airspace, prompting yet one more response from RAF Lossiemouth to scramble Typhoons.

“To better understand enemy order of battle and tactics in the region, the Russians are deliberately testing the RAF and NATO’s overall QRA response (time and tactics) while also tracking naval movements.”

The bombers have been heading for the northwest coast of Scotland, however this time prevented getting into British airspace, the RAF mentioned.

They described it as a “routine response” – one among greater than 135 incidents the place the RAF scrambled Russian plane close to the UK between 2005 and 2020 to intercept Russian plane.

T-Intelligence, an early warning and threats group, defined on the time that the GIUK hole – the house between Greenland, Iceland and the UK – is of strategic significance to Russia as a path to the North Atlantic.

A commentary on the time learn: ‘The GIUK gap is very important for Russia to move its nuclear submarines and ASW aircraft in and out of the North Atlantic in the event of war.

“To better understand enemy order of battle and tactics in the region, the Russian(s) are deliberately testing the RAF and NATO’s total QRA response (time and ways) whereas additionally monitoring naval actions.”

In different circumstances, Tu-142s have been concerned in joint coaching workouts with Britain.

On February 2, 2022, simply 22 days earlier than the beginning of the struggle in Ukraine, British and Norwegian fighters shadowed a Tu-142 because it looked for a submarine within the Northeast Atlantic.

Its goal was to go looking and monitor ships far underwater, TASS reported.

The UK authorities has not specified why the plane have been seen in Scottish airspace earlier in the present day.

They did notice that: ‘Russian military aircraft entering the UK’s flight data area, the managed space of ​​UK worldwide airspace, might pose a menace to different plane.

“These Russian planes often don’t talk to air traffic control or ‘squawk’, but broadcast a code that makes them visible to other air users and air traffic controllers on the ground.”

Speak in opposition to British Defense Journaldefined Andy Netherwood: ‘Russian long-haul airlines often pass through the London and Scottish FIRs without filing a flight plan, talking to ATC or ‘screeching’ (working their transponders).

“This effectively makes them invisible to civilian ATC and is very dangerous because airplanes also fly through this airspace.”

For this purpose, RAF jets have been scrambled to observe the planes as they flew by means of the zone, relaying invaluable data to air site visitors management.

In this March 2020 handout picture, a Norwegian F-35 fighter jet (above) intercepts a Russian Tupolev TU-142 (Bear-J) close to Norwegian airspace alongside the Norwegian/Russian border

Image reveals the second RAF Typhoon jets intercepted a Russian Tu-142 working close to British airspace on 30 April 2023

The lead RAF Typhoon pilot mentioned after the assembly: ‘It is really gratifying to know that we were able to make a successful interception, preserving the integrity of UK and NATO airspace.

“When the alarm for a scramble went off in the early hours of the morning, the adrenaline started to flow.

‘Working with ground control operators and with air-to-air refueling from an RAF Voyager, we were able to operate until the mission was completed and the target aircraft left the UK’s space of ​​curiosity.’