Typhons from RAF Coningsby were launched to intercept a Ryanair aircraft flying in from Lithuania and escort it to Stansted Airport this morning (Wednesday) following a ‘suspected hoax security alert’.
Members of the public across the area as well as further afield including Peterborough and Suffolk reported hearing a ‘sonic boom’ earlier.
An RAF spokesman said: “The RAF can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this morning from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft. The aircraft was safely escorted to Stansted airport.
“The Typhoon aircraft were authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons; any inconvenience caused to local residents is regretted.”
A spokesman for Ryanair said: “This flight from Kaunas to London Luton was diverted to London Stansted in line with procedures after Lithuanian authorities received a suspected hoax security alert.
“The aircraft landed normally at Stansted and customers will be transferred to Luton by coach when cleared to do so.”
Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) is a part of the RAF’s air defence role to protect UK airspace and aircraft are able to take off within minutes.
It is not clear why the Typhoon’s were launched yet but QRA is usually used to intercept unidentified aircraft because the aircraft cannot be identified by any other means, for example, the aircraft is not talking to civilian or military Air Traffic Control, has not filed a flight plan and / or is not transmitting a recognisable secondary surveillance radar code.