The purpose of the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) readiness maintained by air forces worldwide is to enforce the security of a nation's air space.
During QRA, fighter aircraft are kept at a high state of readiness to intercept and identify aircraft flying over the nation's territory or in its vicinity in the international air space. Reasons for performing a QRA mission may be the need to identify an aircraft that hasn't disclosed its identity to the air traffic control or one that has lost contact with it.
A Strategic Airlift Capability Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long-range cargo jet is intercepted by two MiG-29 fighters of the Bulgarian Air Force during a Quick Reaction Alert training mission in Bulgarian airspace on 14th January 2015. Photo courtesy of the Bulgarian Air Force.
On January 14th the fighter jets of a SAC member nation, Bulgaria, performed a QRA training interception of a Strategic Airlift Capability Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.
The interception carried out by MiG-29 jet fighters of the Bulgarian Air Force took place during an airlift mission when the SAC C-17 operated by a multinational crew was crossing the nation's air space on its way to Afghanistan.
The intention of the training requested by the Bulgarian Air Force and coordinated in advance with SAC was to offer the personnel participating in QRA duties the possibility to train the interception of a large aircraft moving at a high altitude. By combining the training requirement with a SAC airlift mission a cost effective way of using both the multi-nationally owned and operated SAC assets and the national capabilities was achieved.
The intercept was documented by the Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 aircrews with photos.