Two Russian bombers flew within 50 miles of the West coast of Ireland on Thursday breaching Irish controlled airspace, the Irish Aviation Authority has confirmed.
The military aircraft, believed to be Tupolev Tu-95MS, approached from the north with their safety transponders turned off but did not did not enter Irish sovereign airspace however.
The British Royal Airforce scrambled Typhoon fighters to escort the Russian aircraft which were on a routine mission according to Russian Government sources.
There has been a makred increase in incidences involving Russian military aircraft flying close to the sovereign airspace of other western countries since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine.
Referring to the incident as a “dangerous Russian war games stunt” Fianna Fáil Transport Spokesperson and Clare TD Timmy Dooley today called for immediate representations to the Russian Government adding that without transponders, the presence of the aircraft was unknown to commercial airliners.
He has also called for clarity on reports that the British military did not inform Irish civil aviation authorities that they were sending Typhoon fighter jets in response.
“The fact that the safety of the Irish travelling public was compromised by these war games is completely and utterly unacceptable. Ireland’s location means that we have some of the busiest airspace in Europe, with almost all transatlantic flights passing through our skies. The Russian and British unauthorised entry into our airspace posed a threat, not only to Irish air passengers but to thousands of people flying from Europe to the US.
“These manoeuvres, which were not sanctioned by the Irish Aviation Authority, put Irish air traffic controllers in the invidious position of not being able to carry out their duties effectively. This should not be tolerated. Minister Paschal Donohoe must move to secure a meeting with the British and Russian ambassadors to get a full explanation of the event and to seek assurances that a similar incident will not happen again.
“I have written to the Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport & Communications to convene a meeting with the Irish Aviation Authority to assess the risks that were posed during this incident. I have also submitted a request for the British and Russian ambassadors to be brought before the Committee to give an account of what happened.
“This is not an incident which can be brushed aside. It is imperative that the Government gets to the bottom of this issue, without delay,” added the East Clare TD.