When Military Jets 'Escort' Passenger Airliners

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Found 4th Oct 2017
Is there any purpose other than to shoot them down if they've been hijacked?
Otherwise I'm unsure what a fighter plane is meant to be doing when sent to 'Escort' a passenger plane.

For instance, this morning a couple of RAF planes 'Escorted' a Ryan Air plane to Stansted.
bbc.co.uk/new…677
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There are a number of reasons why the RAF might scramble jets.

These include if the plane isn't responding to air traffic control, if contact with an aircraft is lost altogether, if a security threat (such as this one) is reported, if a plane enters British airspace without permission or if a plane is travelling along the airspace border acting shiftily.

What sort of plane might act 'shiftily'?

Several times a year -- eight times in 2013 alone -- Russian military aircraft are spotted flying near UK airspace, although Russian planes have never entered the UK without permission. Some analysts believe that these 'Russian Bear' reconnaissance aircraft are sent to test Western response times.What happens when military planes are scrambled?

One or more planes -- Typhoons or Tornados -- take off from the nearest RAF base and head towards the aircraft. The RAF pilots would manoeuvre the jets alongside the target plane and might also take photos or attempt to make contact with the crew on board. The jets would continue to flank the target plane until the situation was no longer deemed to be of concern to national security.

Are the jets there to shoot down the aircraft?

At a very last resort, yes. But usually military jets are sent as a precaution and many are called back before even intercepting the target plane -- usually after contact is resumed or more information suggests that the situation isn't of concern.

But what else can military jets do apart from shoot down the aeroplane in question?

Firstly, the RAF pilots can try and reestablish communication with the plane from the air. More forcefully, they can fly alongside the plane and try to force it to take a particular route or land at a particular airport. Manchester and Stansted are the UK airports designated for diverted landings since they are equipped to handle situations such as hijacking threats, although the MOD would not reveal any details.

Under what circumstances would RAF jets shoot down an intercepted plane?

For reasons of national security (that old chestnut), the MOD would not reveal when this might happen as it would count as 'rules of engagement'. But it's very much a last resort.

Do we need to worry about today's incident?

No. It's completely resolved and is being handled by civilian authorities.


I love a good escort.
"A sonic boom could be heard in Suffolk after the Typhoon aircraft were authorised to travel at supersonic speed for the operation, the RAF said."

I miss the sound of Concord and other supersonic aircraft
Edited by: "catbeans" 4th Oct 2017
catbeans17 m ago

"A sonic boom could be heard in Suffolk after the Typhoon aircraft were …"A sonic boom could be heard in Suffolk after the Typhoon aircraft were authorised to travel at supersonic speed for the operation, the RAF said."I miss the sound of Concord and other supersonic aircraft


I'm in Suffolk and occasionally hear sonic booms, saw two jets afterburners going one night a couple of months back, followed by the boom.
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