The sight of the two Russian bombers so close to British air space was yet another sign that Cold War 2 was upon us. During the confrontation, Tu-95 bombers and the RAF Typhoons came as close as 1,000 feet away from each other. They were so close that the British pilots could communicate with the Russian bomber with hand signals.
Sources within the British Ministry of Defense claims that one of the two Russian bombers intercepted carried at least one of Russia’s nuclear weapons designed to “seek and find” Trident submarines. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Defense Secretary Michael Fallon were alerted after cockpit conversations confirmed the Russian bomber’s nuclear payload were intercepted by a Norwegian military listening post.
“We downloaded conversations from the crew of one plane who used a special word which meant the would-be attack was a training exercise,” said a senior RAF source according to Express. “They know that we can pick up their transmissions and it would only be of concern if the often used release weapon order was changed. We also knew from another source that one of the aircraft was carrying a nuclear weapon long before it came anywhere near UK airspace.”
Experts say the belief that the Russian bomber was carrying nuclear weapons is an example that Vladimir Putin is upping his game.
“This continual and increasing probing of NATO airspace by these nuclear bombers and fighter aircraft, tankers and electronic aircraft by Russian is a pattern of increased pressure by Russia designed to remind the West and NATO that they remain a large nuclear power, and a serious military power with reach,” said Justin Bronk of the Royal United Services Institute.
Some experts also claim the RAF is stretched too thin with its current defensive capabilities with threats of World War 3 on their doorstep.
“Putin is making the point that he has nuclear weapons and will carry them wherever he wants and NATO just has to take it,” said Air Cmdre Andrew Lambert, of the U.K. National Defense Association. “We have reduced the number of or Typhoon squadrons to the bare minimum. They have the Quick Reaction Alert commitments, NATO’s Baltic effort, and of course, the Falklands. So we are stretched three ways. We have too few air defense aircraft bearing in mind the commitments we now have.
Fortunately, the Russian bomber was not on a mission to start World War 3, and Vladimir Putin would have been required to give a direct order in order to make the warhead live. The other Russian bomber was apparently acting as a “mothership” during the military exercise.