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British F-35B Jets Scramble From UK Aircraft Carrier To Escort A Russian Il-38 Maritime Patrol Aircraft

F-35B Il-38
A British F-35B escorts an Il-38. (Image credit: UK Carrier Strike Group)

The F-35Bs launched from HMS Queen Elizabeth and escorted a Russian Il-38 flying close to the UK Carrier Strike Group.

A Russian Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft came within proximity of the UK Carrier Strike Group operating off the coast of northern Norway. F-35B Lightning jets were scrambled from the deck of the HMS Queen Elizabeth to join RoNAF (Royal Norwegian Air Force) F-35As and shadow the Russian Naval Aviation aircraft.

The UK CSG’s official X account shared a photo of an F-35B belonging to the 617 Sqn from RAF Marham escorting the Il-38 four-engined turboprop. Considering that the image was probably taken from the aircraft carrier, it’s safe to believe the Russian MPA flew quite close to the Royal Navy’s flagship.

HMSQE left Portsmouth on Sept. 8 and is currently operating in the Arctic region.

The UK aircraft carrier’s Air Group took part in Ex. Cobra Warrior 23-2, RAF’s largest exercise, that involved more than 50 aircraft from Canada, U.S., Italy, Norway, Australia and the UK working together to support a fictional country in conflict to regain sovereign territory. In particular, the F-35s were tasked with SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) missions.

The F-35s of several air forces carry out QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) tasks both at home and abroad, under NATO command, to support the alliance’s air policing missions. For instance, the Italian F-35As are currently deployed to Poland, to support BAP (Baltic Air Policing): the Italian Lightings have recently intercepted two Russian Naval Aviation Su-30s off Kaliningrad. However, to our knowledge, this is one of the first (if not the very first) time an F-35B is scrambled from the flight deck of a carrier to carry out an intercept.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

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