Millions of people heard a sonic boom as RAF typhoons broke the sound barrier after intercepting a private jet this afternoon.
Residents in Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Cambridge, north and south London reported an explosion just after 1 p.m. today.
The Department of Defense confirmed that the RAF Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert jets were launched from RAF Coningsby in Linconlnshire.
The jets were launched to intercept a private Bombardier Learjet that had arrived from Germany and lost communication with air traffic control.
The aircraft, a Bombardier Global Express D-AFAL, can be rented as a VIP and can carry up to 12 passengers and two pilots – or three for long-haul flights and a flight attendant.
On its website, the 48-foot aircraft offers "VIP transportation" and has three single beds, two double beds and ultra-fast wifi in its "spacious cabins".
With Rolls-Royce engines, the private jet can reach speeds of 900 km / h.
The RAF jets are authorized to generate supersonic "if necessary" – which is why the boom could be heard.
Flight tracking data suggests the RAF jets may have reached speeds of 1,100 miles per hour while flying at an altitude of 39,000 feet.
The two typhoons were launched to intercept a pictured private jet that had allegedly arrived from Germany
The plane had lost communication with air traffic control before the RAF transported it to Stansted Airport
The RAF Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert-Jets were launched from RAF Coningsby in Linconlnshire
Residents in Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Cambridge, north and south London reported an explosion just after 1 p.m. today
The two typhoons were launched from Coningsby to intercept a private jet that had lost communication with air traffic control
The RAF (QRA) aircraft are held ready to protect Britain immediately and can take off in minutes
What is a quick reaction alarm?
Quick Reaction Alert QRA is a routine part of the RAF's air defense role in protecting UK airspace.
The RAF (QRA) aircraft are immediately held ready to protect the UK and can take off in minutes.
QRAs are launched to intercept unidentified aircraft as there is no other way to identify the aircraft. i.e. the aircraft is not talking to civil or military air traffic control, has not submitted a flight plan and / or is not sending a recognizable secondary surveillance radar code.
Multi-role Typhoon Fighter Squadrons perform QRA duties from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland and the Falkland Islands.
In the UK, fighters led by Air Battlespace Controllers at RAF Boulmer (Northumberland) and RAF Scampton (Lincolnshire) can be encrypted to intercept, identify and intervene if necessary, aircraft approaching our shores.
An RAF spokesman told MailOnline: & # 39; The RAF can confirm that this afternoon Typhoon Rapid Reaction Alert aircraft were launched by RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft that had lost communication. Communication was then restored, the aircraft intercepted and safely brought to Stansted.
"The Typhoon aircraft were allowed to fly at supersonic speed for operational reasons."
QRA procedures involve keeping RAF aircraft and crews in constant high readiness around the clock so that they can take off in minutes to protect the sovereign airspace of the UK and NATO.
In Great Britain and the FI, the RAF maintains a continuous ground standby.
The jet was safely brought to Stansted Airport at 2pm.
TV presenter Rylan Clark-Neal tweeted, "I wish I had checked Twitter before deciding to single-handedly inspect the automatic wine opener in hand.
The bang could be heard this afternoon, set off car alarms and shake the windows.
It was also taken with CCTV cameras on the south coast.
Depending on the altitude of the aircraft, a sonic boom can be heard near the ground two to 60 seconds after the speed of sound is interrupted.
The distance from which the boom can be heard is approximately one mile per 1,000 feet of altitude.
A supersonic aircraft flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet would create a side boom of about 30 miles.
The RAF Typhoon fighter escorted the jet to Stansted Airport in Essex after losing communication
The plane is safely on the Stansted runway this afternoon
The jets were allowed to fly supersonic, which is why the boom could be heard for several miles
Cambridgeshire Police also received calls from members of the public who were shocked after the loud boom rattled windows and doors.
A spokesman for the force said, "We have received numerous calls from the public reporting a 'sonic boom' between Huntingdon and Cambridge.
& # 39; It is believed that this was the result of planes flying over us.
& # 39; Nobody was hurt. Some callers reported the incident "rocked" the properties, but no major damage is believed to have occurred. "
What is a sonic boom?
A sonic boom is a thunder-like sound that a person on the ground hears when an airplane or other aerospace vehicle flies over their heads faster than the speed of sound or "supersonic".
Air reacts like liquid to superstructures. As these objects move through the air, molecules are pushed aside with great force, and this forms a shock wave, much like a boat makes a trail in water. The bigger and heavier the aircraft, the more air it displaces.
The shock wave forms a "cone" of pressurized or built-up air molecules that move out and back in all directions and extend to the ground.
As this cone spreads across the landscape along the trajectory, it creates a continuous sonic boom across the entire width of the cone base. The sharp pressure relief after build-up by the shock wave can be heard as a sonic boom.
The change in air pressure associated with a sonic boom is only a few pounds per square foot – roughly the same change in pressure that occurs when traveling an elevator on two or three floors.
It is the rate of change, the sudden change in pressure, that makes the sonic boom audible.
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