Saturday, April 19, 2008

Russian Bear returns to test Lincs aircrews...

Good to see our Russian friends providing Lincolnshire-based aircrews with top-rate counter-terror training.

According to a report in the Lincolnshire Echo(from last week, missed at the time), Russian bombers have been intercepted by Royal Air Force fighters 28 times over the last seven months.

Newly operational Eurofighter Typhoons based at RAF Coningsby in south Lincs are regularly scrambled to shadow Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear-H and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers.

Throughout the Cold War era, regular cat and mouse 'games' tested reactions of both sides.

As a cub reporter on the Lincolnshire Standard in the late 1960s, I well remember the excitement of reporting - as much as we were allowed to know - how Lincolnshire-based RAF aircrews regularly intercepted Soviet bombers trying to nudge British airspace...

Then the fast jets of their day were the English Electric Lightnings - like the one pictured - and they flew from high on the Lincolnshire Wolds at RAF Binbrook between Louth and Grimsby.

It all ended of course in the nineties with the collapse of the Soviet Empire - and today's main threat is not the Cold War hotting up, but terrorism.

RAF Binbrook has long since closed. Today, RAF Coningsby in the south of the county is one of two so-called Quick Reaction Alert bases in the UK with the specific role of preventing hi-jacks.

But the Russian Bear flexing its muscles again unwittingly helps provide excellent training sorties to keep aircrews well practised in their skills...

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