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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
UK Typhoons shadow Russian bomber
An MoD photo shows RAF Typhoon shadowing a Russian Bear-H

Two new RAF Typhoon jets shadowed a Russian bomber heading for Britain, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The jets were scrambled on Friday 17 August to identify the Russian aircraft, which turned back before it reached UK skies.

The MoD said: "RAF Typhoons from Numbers 3(F) and XI Squadrons launched to shadow a Russian Bear-H aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean."

The BBC's Gordon Corera said the incident was not a security threat.

Active standby

He said a similar incident occurred in July, but that this represented a new, more provocative Russian foreign policy.

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has recently resumed the Soviet-era practice of sending bomber aircraft on long-range flights.
Estimated total cost to UK: 15.9bn
UK base: RAF Coningsby
Length -15.96m (52ft)
Wingspan - 10.95m (32ft)
Height - 5.28m (17ft)

Britain's 67m Typhoons were only put on active standby in July.

Typhoons, the RAF's newest fast jet aircraft - which are based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire - cover the UK Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) commitment together with Tornado F3 aircraft based at RAF Leeming and RAF Leuchars.

Over the next nine months, the Typhoons will progressively replace Tornado F3s, the aircraft which have performed this duty for many years.

The Typhoon was designed during the Cold War, when European leaders looked to the Soviet Union as their main threat from the air.

The RAF has ordered 144 Typhoons, which can accelerate from standing to take-off in under seven seconds.

They were developed by companies in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Footage of the RAF's newest fighter planes

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