Russian bombers flirted with Irish airspace yesterday – the latest incident in a war of nerves between Vladamir Putin and NATO.
This happened north of Donegal and military experts have already warned that similar military operations could pose a risk to civilian planes.
Dr Edward Burke of the University of Nottingham says Russian military intelligence planes sometimes turn off transponders to avoid detection.
He said: âRussian incursions can not only hurt Irish sovereignty. They also carry a potential risk to life.
Dr Burke spoke after a foray into Irish-controlled airspace earlier this month. Ireland is caught in the middle because Russia appears to be testing the reaction speeds of the British RAF.
Yesterday, RAF fighters rushed to intercept the Russian Air Force‘s TU-95 Bear bomber – capable of carrying nuclear weapons – which was flying near the Shetland Islands.
British typhoons from Scotland were deployed to monitor the Russian bomber, but it then flew west towards Ireland north of Donegal. Shannon Air Traffic Control referred all questions from the Irish Mirror to the Irish Aviation Authority. He also declined to confirm whether the Russian bomber entered Irish-controlled airspace. And the Department of Transport did not answer questions.
Dr Burke said that over the past decade Russian bombers have flown a series of missions designed to test RAF reaction times.
He added: âSitting between two of Russia’s main adversaries, Ireland lacks the air defense capabilities to deter or defend against such provocative sorties into its airspace.