How close we came to Armageddon: Russian bombers began to arm NUKE near UK
airspacePILOTS in one of the two Russian supersonic bombers intercepted
near UK skies last week had started the countdown to arm a nuclear bomb,
sources revealed last night.
By MARCO GIANNANGELI, EXCLUSIVE
PUBLISHED: 06:01, Mon, Sep 21, 2015 | UPDATED: 07:45, Mon, Sep 21, 2015
The discovery was made after RAF specialists analyzed a four-second signal
transmitted from one of the Tupolev Tu-160 bombers, known by Nato as
"Blackjacks", in the days following Thursday's incursion.
Analysts at RAF Boulmer, Britain's Control and Reporting Centre, confirmed
that the Russian bombers had begun the sequence to arm nuclear weapons
while carrying out the incursion.
It is not the first time they have done this and comparison with a similar
signal transmitted by a TU-95 "Bear" bomber revealed Russian air crew had
begun the countdown during an incursion last year, as well.
The Sunday Express revealed that the bomber involved in the February 2014
had been carrying a submarine-busting nuclear depth charge designed to
attack Britain's Trident-carrying Vanguard submarines.
"All I can say is that we now know it related to the first stage of arming
a nuclear device," said a senior RAF source last night.
"There are several additional arming procedures which, thankfully, were not
Last week's air incursion, which was intercepted by Two RAF Typhoon jets,
was the seventh this year by Russian forces.
RAF Boulmer, in Longhoughton. Northmberland, is the headquarters of the Air
Surveillance and Control System force and the nerve centre of UK air
security operations. Once a target is tracked the information is fed into
the NATO network operated by the Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem,
Germany and the RAF's Air Defence Operations Centre at Air Command, High
However it was only when a female analyst decoded last week's transmission
that it was realised Russia had carried out a similar exercise last year.
Bronk, of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the
revelation confirmed a "worrying" development in Russian strategy.
"Putin does not allow his air force to fly with cruise missiles because he
is so worried about defections, but dual purpose bombs such as nuclear
depth charges are a different matter. And these are designed to be a direct
threat to or nuclear deterrent.
"It is entirely probable that Russian crews have been practicing arming
drills. The whole process can take several minutes
and it is important to be able to carry
He added that the lack of Nimrod maritime surveillance patrol aircraft made
the situation more worrying.
Britain's Nimrod fleet, which was scrapped as part of the SDR in 2010, used
to perform so-called "delousing" exercises, whereby it would give advanced
warning of Russian aircraft when Trident-carrying Vanguard submarines set
off on patrol.
"There is no doubt that, by going through even the initial stages of the
nuclear arming sequence, Russia is sending Britain clear signals. This is
classic Cold War operation, and it is not a game."
Nato aircraft were "scrambled" more than 500 times over Europe in 2014, a
fourfold increase over the previous year. Almost 90 per cent of those
flights involved Russian incursions. The number of Russian incursions had
already reached 300 by the end of last month, suggesting this year will see
numbers akin to the height of the Cold War.
Most Russian aircraft fly without transponders so as not to give away their
positions, making them a safety hazard to other air traffic.
"Scrambles are launched in response to Russian activity,' said Nato
spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jay Janzen, recently.
"The sole aim is to preserve the integrity of Nato European airspace and to
safeguard Nato nations from air attacks."
Received on Wed Sep 23 2015 - 02:00:55 EDT