British Jets Intercept Russian Bomber Over North Atlantic

Two Royal Air Force jets have intercepted a Russian bomber over the North Atlantic.

"RAF Typhoons from Numbers 3(F) and XI Squadrons launched to shadow a Russian Bear-H aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean on Friday 17 August 2007," the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

In a separate incident, the Reuters news agency reported Wednesday that a Russian fighter jet violated Georgian airspace by at least 3 miles. Russia quickly denied the claim made by Georgia's Foreign Ministry.

It was the first time the Eurofighter has been scrambled on a genuine alert since it took over defense of Britain's airspace in June.

The RAF fighter jets were officially put on active standby last month, ready to protect the U.K. from hijacked airliners and other threats from the skies.

Read the original report from Sky News.

A dozen Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft of 3 (Fighter) Squadron are now on round-the-clock active duty at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

The Typhoon, replacing the RAF's ageing fleet of Tornado F3 jets, will be at constant readiness to intercept any aircraft thought to be a threat, specifically a Sept. 11-style terrorist attack.

Two Typhoon will be poised 24 hours a day as the designated Quick Reaction Alert force for southern Britain.

Tornado F3 jets based at RAF Leuchars in Scotland will share the same role over northern U.K. airspace for some five to six months yet before they are replaced as well.

It will be at least another year before the controversial fighter jet is ready for air-to-ground combat operations, which could see squadrons deployed to Afghanistan, RAF chiefs said last month.

The Typhoon was designed during the Cold War, with European leaders eager to outgun the Soviets in the sky.

Britain has ordered 144 Typhoons, which have a maximum speed of mach 2 — twice the speed of sound, about 1,500 mph — and can accelerate from standing to takeoff in less than seven seconds.