British and French planes scrambled to shadow Russian jets

British Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth intercept two Russian Long Range Blackjack bombers and escort them whilst in the UK area of interest. Photograph issued from Lossiemouth, Britain, September 20, 2018. RAF/Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - British and French military jets were scrambled to investigate suspected Russian fighter aircraft flying over the North Sea on Thursday.

Colonel Cyrille Duvivier, a spokesman for the French Air Force, told Reuters one or several Russian planes were detected and that the actions were not hostile.

“The usual response mechanisms were triggered: Rafale fighters took off in the late morning from the base of Saint-Dizier with a refueling plane and positioned themselves for possible intervention,” Duvivier said.

RAF jets regularly monitor Russian warplanes near UK airspace and they intercepted jets near Romania last month.

Britain’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, spoke about “an ever more assertive Russia” in a speech in London in July.

He said the RAF has had to scramble jets more than 80 times over the last decade to intercept Russian military aircraft.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill and Sophie Louet; editing by Stephen Addison