Despite assurances, Russian nuclear bombers entered into Irish-controlled airspace for the second time in two weeks, this time coming considerably nearer to our coast.
The Russian Tupulov Tu-95 “Bear” bombers flew as close as 25 miles from the west, south and east coast — just 12 miles outside our sovereign airspace.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said the Russians didn’t notify them in advance of their presence, as is normal — despite an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs previously telling the Russian ambassador it wasn’t acceptable.
The latest incursion happened on Thursday when the bombers hugged the Irish coastline before heading towards British airspace where they were intercepted by RAF Typhoon jets near Cornwall.
They retreated the same way they had come, back around the Irish coast and over the north Atlantic towards their home base.
The IAA monitored the aircraft’s movements in Irish-controlled airspace between 3pm and 7pm when they flew at 27,000ft — above the ceiling of the Air Corps’ most modern aircraft, the Pilatus.
Two weeks ago the Russian bombers, one of which was identified as carrying a nuclear device, flew 55 miles off the Irish coast as they again tested British air defence systems near the Hebrides and in the English Channel.
The IAA refused to say if the bombers’ transponders were turned off as happened during the previous incursion, but aviation industry sources claimed they were.
An IAA spokesman maintained the bombers posed no threat to commercial airlines, even though they were flying at an altitude which could bring them into contact with some of the 1,800 aircraft which daily pass through our airspace.
The Department of Defence said it had no comment to make about the latest incident.
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