The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has said that commercial airliners carrying hundreds of people were disrupted when two Russian ‘Bear’ bombers flew through Irish-controlled international airspace last month.
One airline was delayed from taking off while another one was diverted from its path in mid-air to avoid possible collisions with the Tu-95 bombers.
The Russian bombers flew 45 kilometers off the coast of Ireland in international airspace and were under Irish air traffic control.
This episode took place on February 18. It was the same day when British Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters were scrambled to intercept Russian bombers flying close to Cornwall.
Ireland’s Defence Minister Simon Coveney said the government was “clearly not happy” about the event, the Irish Examiner reported. However, he added: “I’d be surprised if it was a Russian tactic to upset Ireland, and the IAA managed the incident safely and effectively.”
It is not known why it took two weeks for the IAA to reveal the disruption caused by Russian Tu-95 bombers to airliners carrying civilians.
Interfax has told that Irish aviation authorities admitted there was no threat to civil aviation flights in Irish-controlled airspace.
On the other hand, Russia has said on several occasions that its military aviation flights in neutral airspace do not violate any international norms regulating this sphere, the news wire reported.
This latest revelation follows an announcement by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirming RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled in response to the same Russian bombers on February 18. RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft were launched to escort the Russian aircraft, which were traveling in international airspace, until they left the UK’s “area of interest.”
“The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK area of interest. At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace.”
A similar event took place in January when two Russian ‘Bear’ bombers flying over the English Channel were intercepted by RAF Typhoons. To record their protest, the UK government summoned the Russian ambassador and complained about the January flight.
Britain’s Foreign Office claimed Russian jets posed a danger to commercial airplane, but shared no details.