A RAF Tornado below one of the TU-160s
Two Russian bombers were intercepted by RAF fighter jets near Stornoway on the Western Isles, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed.
The Tupolev TU-160 aircraft were shadowed by two F3 Tornados scrambled from RAF Leuchars in Fife in the early hours of 10 March.
The Russian crews made no contact with UK air traffic control before entering restricted airspace.
The MoD said it was a "perceived threat" to the UK but was not unusual.
A spokeswoman added there was also an issue of air safety for military and civilian aircraft flying in the same area.
The flight of the bombers - nicknamed Blackjacks - were tracked by the RAF before their arrival in UK restricted airspace.
Tornado crews of 111 (Fighter) Squadron at RAF Leuchars play a lead role in the UK Quick Reaction Alert Force.
The Russian jets flew south before turning north after nearing the coast of Northern Ireland.
The RAF crews were stood down after the Blackjacks left UK airspace.
Wing Cdr Mark Gorringe said: "This is not an unusual incident and people may be surprised to know that our crews have successfully scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft on more than 20 occasions since the start of 2009."