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A Royal Air Force pilot warned the crew of a Russian-built cargo plane that their plane would be shot down after they entered UK airspace and lost communication with air traffic controllers.
The RAF scrambled two Typhoon fighter jets to intercept an Antonov An-26 cargo airliner from Latvia into Stansted Airport.
Radio communication emerged later of the stark warning the RAF issued to the pilots of the cargo plane: "I am instructed by Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom to warn you that if you do not respond immediately to my orders you will be shot down."
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The fighter jets triggered a sonic boom across a large area of South East England as they rushed to intercept the plane, the Daily Telegraph reports.
An RAF spokesman said: "Typhoon aircraft were launched this afternoon from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft south of London which was causing concern to air traffic control authorities. The aircraft was safely escorted to London Stansted. To fulfil their quick reaction role the Typhoons were cleared to travel at supersonic speed, any noise disturbance as a result of this is regretted. Essex Police now have the lead."
An Essex Police spokesman confirmed that the jets had been scrambled as a precautionary measure: "This was due to a loss of communication with the aircraft. The aircraft landed safely at Stansted Airport at around 5.20pm".
He added: "All three people who were on board have been spoken to by police. It was established that everything was in order and the reason for the short loss of communication was due to a change in airspace jurisdiction. Essex Police is not investigating the incident and the aircraft will be able to continue its journey to Birmingham when it's ready."
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