British fighter jets have been launched today to intercept two Russian military aircraft that were spotted flying close to UK airspace.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed the Typhoon jets were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and escorted the aircraft while in the UK area of interest.
The incident came just hours after HMS Argyll was deployed to monitor a destroyer and two other ships as they passed through the English Channel ahead of a Nato exercise off the coast of Scotland involving 50 warships.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft were launched today after Russian aircraft were identified flying close to UK airspace.
'The Russian planes are being escorted by the RAF in the UK area of interest.'
The Russian aircraft are believed to be 1950s-era Tupolev TU-95 Bear bombers that were first shadowed by Norwegian air force jets before they approached British airspace.
The Bears did not enter the UK's sovereign airspace but their appearance will be seen as the second display of Russia's military power near Britain in a matter of hours.
After the Typhoons were scrambled, Voyagers based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire were sent to provide air to air refuelling support while communications and radar assistance was given from the National Air Defence Operations Centre.
Earlier today, the Ministry of Defence had announced that Royal Navy was monitoring the Russian Udaloy class destroyer Severomorsk along with a tanker and a support ship as they return from the Mediterranean.
The Type 23 frigate used a Lynx helicopter and sensors to locate and monitor the movement of the Russian warship and the two other vessels.
Earlier reports had suggested the ships were set to carry out military drills in the English Channel but it was confirmed that no exercises were seen.
The vessels are said to be on their way to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine drills in the north Atlantic.
HMS Argyle will remain with the three ships as they head east through the Channel and clear UK waters.
The Ministry of Defence stressed that the encounter was in accordance with international law and the ships are due to leave the Channel later.
This latest incident comes at a time of heightened tension between Britain and Russia, with more than 100 Russian aircraft being intercepted near Britain in the past year, three times more than during the whole of 2013.
In However, it comes at a time of heightened tension between Britain and Russia, with more than 100 Russian aircraft being over the UK intercepted last year, three times more than during the whole of 2013.
However, it comes at a time of heightened tension between Britain and Russia, with more than 100 Russian aircraft being over the UK intercepted last year, three times more than during the whole of 2013.
In January, Typhoons were dispatched from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to intercept two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear missiles as they flew south of Bournemouth.
In February, HMS Argyll intercepted a Neustrashimy-class warship and its accompanying tanker as they headed home after a deployment in the Mediterranean in the English Channel. And two RAF Typhoon jets scrambled from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to escort two Russian bombers in international airspace off the coast of Cornwall.