• February 8, 2022

Busy activity today with both the Russians and NATO ratcheting up war games seemingly at all points of the compass off the West of these Islands. The BBC was running a piece by midday but courtesy of the various social media and scanning sites the picture had been building since early morning.

The Russian Navy exercises are getting underway off the SW of Ireland moved outside the Irish EEZ much to the delight of Cork fishermen. Meanwhile, British. US and French warships have been monitoring their movements. In the air its equally frenetic NATO (British and French) maritime patrol aircraft are active in the SW approaches and off the West of Ireland.

Meanwhile two Portuguese fighter jets (based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland) have been scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft moving down the West of Scotland. The Portuguese aircraft were supported by an RAF tanker aircraft and an RAF Typhoon.

The Russian aircraft seemed to comprise a large group of 3 ‘bombers’ ‘these are possibly Tu 95 Maritime Recce aircraft and tankers. In addition there is a Russian AWACS (A50) aircraft. I got this helpful info from a Russian language site which has a convenient translation facility. Given the tanker aircraft and the size of this force it may be connected to the naval exercise in the South West. If so the Russians will traverse British and Irish controlled airspace.

To complete the melee two USAF fighter jets were in the air to the West of Donegal accompanied by a tanker aircraft earlier today. They could have been on their way back home but given all the military movement is towards Europe at present that doesn’t seem likely. Let’s hope they all remember these are ‘war games’.

Elsewhere while there is talk of peace dialogue flights of aircraft carrying arms into Ukraine go on with several in the last 24 hours. Tense times!
Image: Russian Beriev A-50u one of the more exotic ‘birds’ in Northern skies earlier.

UPDATE (thanks to my new found Russian language site): There were two TU-95 and two TU-142s with three accompanying IL-78 air tankers. They flew down via the Faroes – Iceland gap and did a circuit well to the NW of Scotland. Then went home ‘for tea’ – total flight time 12 hours. NATO got very excited and had quite a few aircraft in the air at one point.

Bernard Moffatt
Celtic League Military Monitoring (2nd February 2022)

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