A Latvian cargo plane which took an unauthorised detour over the skies of London has been intercepted and forced to land by British fighter jets – or face being shot down.
Two RAF Eurofighter Typhoons were scrambled from an airbase in Coningsby, more than 228 kilometres north of London, and flew at supersonic speeds to intercept the Soviet-era Antonov An-26 cargo plane, causing a supersonic boom that was heard over south-east England.
Typhoons launched to intercept a civil aircraft. It was safely escorted to Stansted. Our aircraft cleared supersonic during the scramble.
— Royal Air Force (@RoyalAirForceUK) October 29, 2014
Apologies if we startled you during the successful intercept this afternoon – we only go supersonic over land when absolutely necessary.
— Royal Air Force (@RoyalAirForceUK) October 29, 2014 The civilian aircraft, owned by Latvian company RAF-Avia, was safely escorted to Stansted airport, north-east of London. It had been carrying automotive parts and bound for Birmingham airport. In an intercepted radio transmission, it is understood that the pilot of the lead RAF Typhoon instructed the three-man crew to comply with military instructions or risk being “shot down”. “I’m instructed by Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom to warn you if you do not respond you will be shot down,” the pilot is heard saying. Stansted Airport confirmed the plane landed at their airport, but that it was given the all clear after being checked by police.
The RAF said jets were following standard procedure after the plane lost radio contact briefly.