The alert was given at 7:00 am by the NATO Operations Center at Uedem (Germany), which then contacted the National Center for Flight Operations in Lyon Mont-Verdun. Six Russian airplanes were flying near the Norwegian coastline, and were quickly taken into account by the Norwegian Operational Readiness Force.
Four of the six airplanes then headed back to Russia, while the two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers continued their flight towards the United Kingdom. They were met and accompanied by Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons. Flying around the west of Ireland, the two Russian planes headed for Brittany.
At the same time, at 7:30 am, the Higher Air Defense Authority (HADA) decided to deploy an E-3F (AWACS) aircraft to track the progress of the Russian bombers and also positioned a C-135 tanker aircraft in the area at about 11:00.
Around 12:30, as the two Russian bombers approached the French coasts, the HADA scrambled two Mirage 2000-5 of the Lorient QRA detachment to intercept and escort them. A Rafale of the Saint Dizier QRA detachment also joined the patrol from eastern France, before the interception, which took place at around 13h.
Joint Anglo-French mission to escort Russian Blackjack bombers around the UK, down to Spain, and back home to Northern Russia. (Twitter infographic)
Flying south towards Spain, the patrol accompanied the Russian aircraft until they were met by Spanish air force F-18 fighters, before the Russian bombers turned around and began their return journey.
These interception and escort missions were commanded by the National Center for Flight Operations in Lyon Mont-Verdun, in close collaboration with NATO's two operating centers in the north (Uedem) and the south (Torrejón).
During this airspace protection mission, the Air Force deployed two Rafales, two Mirage 2000-5s, a C-135 refueling aircraft and an E-3F AWACS in order to guarantee the sovereignty of our national airspace.