A Latvian Antonov cargo plane has been escorted in to land at Stansted airport by RAF Typhoon jets. It follows multiple reports of a massive explosion over Kent.
Social media was flooded with reports of a loud bang being heard in towns across Kent, Sussex and Surrey at around 4.40pm.
However, local ambulance and fire services reported no incident on the ground, leading to the belief that what had been heard was a sonic boom. Iain Dodsworth tweeted that he had heard “a huge explosion” near Crowborough, and later posted online CCTV footage which captured the sound – see video below:
Within the hour, police in Kent confirmed that the noise was due to RAF activity.
What was that massive bang, sounded like an explosion, in Tunbridge Wells?! Shook the AXA office floor! Surely too loud for a firework?!
— Yvonne Rogers (@YvonneRogers) October 29, 2014
@Kent_999s did anyone know what the really loud bang just was in South Darenth, all neighbours are looking outside?
— Heather D (@heavla87) October 29, 2014
Typhoons from RAF Coningsby intercepted a plane over Kent. Now at Stanstead airport. Intercepted plane was warned it could be shot down.
— Kent 999s (@Kent_999s) October 29, 2014
A 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.”
A post on an online forum for professional pilots reported that a member of the Typhoon crew told the crew of the intercepted aircraft that if it didn’t respond to the instruction of Her Majesty’s government, he was instructed to shoot it down.
A flight scanning website recorded the interrupted path of the plane, see video below: