Bears Drop in on NATO

A pair of Russian air force TU-95 strategic bombers breached NATO airspace, triggering a scramble of alliance fighters from Britain’s Royal Air Force. Typhoon fighters on quick-reaction alert at RAF Leuchars, Scotland, launched to intercept and identify the bombers— codenamed “Bear” by NATO. The aircraft entered UK airspace unannounced to civil or military air traffic control, failed to transmit a radar-tracking code, or to submit a required flight plan, according to an RAF release. The fighters escorted the bombers, which were assigned to Russian Long Range Aviation—the rough equivalent of Air Force Global Strike Command’s bomber force—until they departed UK airspace during the Oct. 11 incident. NATO members police alliance airspace under a common command and control structure to track and interdict potential air threats. The alliance cooperatively polices Baltic airspace where member states Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania lack defensive assets.