The Royal Air Force has scrambled two Typhoon fighter jets to intercept a pair of Russian bombers that were reportedly heading towards British airspace. NATO membershave increased the number of interceptions over the last year, as tensions have grown in the west over Russia's interference in Ukraine.

Russia in Syria

On top of the Ukraine crisis, over the last few months Russia has also started a bombing campaign throughout Syria. This campaign has included several alleged bombings of schools and hospitals within Syria which have been attracting media attention recently.

Bombers approach Britain

The two Tu-160 supersonic bombers are reported to be holding in the UK's area of interest but are yet to enter British airspace, whichextendstwelve miles from the British coastline.

The Tu-160 was the last strategic bomber designed for the Soviet Union; it first entered service in 1987 and an upgraded version now equips the Long Range Aviation branch of the Russian Air Force. The force currently has 16 of these aircraft, of whichtwelve are used operationally andfour are maintained for training purposes.

The bombers have a range of 12,300 km and can cruise at speeds just under Mach 1, around 600 mph. Its maximum speed is Mach 2.05.

Typhoons dispatched

The UK have retaliated to the Russians' actions by sending aircraft from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to escort the bombers southwards across the North Sea. The aircraft used in today's operation form a part of the United Kingdom's Quick Reaction Alert team.

A show of force

Today's actions come just hours after the United States have reportedly flown two of their most advanced stealth fighters over an American air base in South Korea, close to the border with North Korea, in a show of force after the North Korean nuclear missile testing and satellite launch.

At this time it is unclear if Russia's actions have been provokedby the Ukraine crisis or their role in Syria, and also if their show of force today is aimed directly at the UK or more towards United States armed forces based within Britain.

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