Source AP ©

British, Norwegian jets intercept Russian warplanes

The British military said Friday that the country’s fighter jets intercepted two Russian long-range bombers that crossed into NATO airspace.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said two Tu-160 "Blackjack" bombers were initially intercepted by Norwegian F16s before they entered NATO airspace patrolled by Britain.

A ministry spokesman refused to give any indication of where the event took place, saying the information was classified. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy.

Two British "Tornado" F3 jets, backed by an E-3D airborne warning and a VC10 tanker plane took off and shadowed the bombers until they altered course to leave the area.

The interception of Russian warplanes in NATO patrolled-airspace has become increasingly common after Russian President Vladimir Putin placed strategic bombers back on long-range missions for the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Russian bombers approached the Pacific Island of Guam - home to a major U.S. military base - last month for the first time since the Cold War. In July, Norwegian F-16s were also scrambled when Tu-95s headed south along the Norwegian coast in international air space.

Britain's military called Friday's flight - and the interception - "routine practice."

"The re-emergence of long-range flights from Russia is something the Russians are entitled to do; all countries have the right to maintain or upgrade and exercise their defense capabilities," the military said in a statement. "The motivation behind any Russian military activity is a matter for the Russian government."

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