Long-range Russian bombers flew directly below an Icelandic passenger jet en route from Keflavík to Stockholm on Thursday, mbl.is reports. The bombers are believed to be of the type Tupolev Tu-22M. They are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and can travel beyond the speed of sound. The incident occurred inside the Icelandic air traffic control area, a short distance from the Norwegian air traffic control area. The bombers had shut off their location equipment and did not report their travel
According to mbl.is, NATO monitored the bombers, which flew almost all the way to Spain, where they turned around and flew back to Russia.
When the bombers were 55 miles away from the Icelandic passenger jet, the Reykjavík Air Traffic Control Center contacted the Icelandic pilots to report two unidentified aircraft. Shortly thereafter, the bombers were only 15 miles away from the passenger jet and getting closer. They were flying 6,000-8,000 feet below the Icelandic jet.
The Icelandic pilot was able to see the bombers, flying in formation, when he looked out the window. He described their flight as risky: “They choose to turn off all radar signals, which prevents our collision avoidance system from functioning,” the pilot commented. “If they fail to keep the distance, there is nothing on our side that creates an alert.”
UPDATE: This report has been corrected. An earlier version mistakenly used the word airspace instead of air traffic control area. We apologize for the mistake.