Belgian Air Force F-16s scramble to intercept two Russian Tu-160 “Blackjack” bombers

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Today, two Belgian Air Force F-16s scrambled from Florennes Air Base and successfully intercepted two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers above the North Sea. A loud bang was heard in the Northern Netherlands as the F-16s broke the sound barrier.

At 11:21, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, part of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System, ordered the Belgian Air Force to intercept the two unidentified aircraft above the North Sea.

At 11:51, the pilots performed a visual identification. At that time, the aircraft were located North of the Netherlands at FL270, above the North Sea. The F-16s tailed the two Tupolevs and handed them over to Royal Air Force Typhoons.

A Royal Air Force spokesman told The Daily Mail: “We can confirm that Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers approaching the UK area of interest. At no point did the Blackjacks enter British sovereign airspace.

Since January 2017, a new arrangement for NATO Air Policing has started for the airspace of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX). The Belgian Air Component and the Royal Netherlands Air Force are taking four-month turns to ensure Quick Reaction Alert (Intercept) fighter jets are available 24/7/365 to be launched under NATO control.

After the interception, the F-16s headed for Leeuwarden for refuelling and have now returned to Florennes Air Base.

Featured image © David Van Bouwel

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