The vital new role being undertaken by Typhoon jets in Moray was put to the test this week when the first Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) flight from RAF Lossiemouth took place.
Lossiemouth is now Scotland’s only front-line air base from which aircraft are tasked with the RAF’s primary role of defending the UK ever hour and day of the year.
Aircraft from Moray will be sent out to intercept unidentified military or civilian aircraft in UK airspace, a task all the more important with recent awareness of Russian military activity.
Confirming the first QRA launch from Lossiemouth by crews from 6 Squadron, a spokesman said: “RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon fighter aircraft were launched this week from RAF Lossiemouth to identify unknown aircraft that were flying in international airspace.
“The aircraft, were identified as Russian military ‘Bears’ which did not enter UK sovereign airspace.
“Recent events have increased awareness of Russian military activity, however, the RAF have routinely intercepted, identified and escorted Russian air assets that transit international airspace within the UK’s area of interest.
“Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation.”
One of the pilots tasked with the first launch said: “It was an honour to be part of what is a milestone in the history of RAF Lossiemouth.
“With the move of QRA (Interceptor) North from Leuchars to Lossiemouth, it has been a huge ask of many personnel. The fact that we had a flawless scramble and intercept of two Russian Bears was a testament to the hard work and commitment of all personnel involved.
“A very proud moment, not just for the pilots who did the intercept but the engineering crews who did a fantastic job, as well as many other station personnel involved in this constant commitment.”
RAF Lossiemouth’s Station Commander, Group Captain Mark Chappell, said of the first launch: “This first successful launch for QRA(I)N has been what all of the hard work by RAF Leuchars and RAF Lossiemouth personnel over recent months has been for.
“The relocation of two Typhoon squadrons was a significant challenge, one that was met by our whole team.
“The many months of preparation and infrastructure improvements have made us absolutely ready for this to this launch, and shows we are in the best position to provide the service to the United Kingdom that the Royal Air Force was primarily created for – that is, the protection of our airspace.”