Sonic booms were heard over Leeds Monday evening after Typhoon jets were launched from RAF Coningsby.

The Typhoon jets were scrambled to an Air France passenger plane with a radio communication problem.

The aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby on Monday night to identify an unresponsive civilian aircraft, the Ministry of Defence said.

Air France confirmed that the unresponsive plane had been one of their aircraft but it later landed safely guided by the Typhoon jets.

Here's some more information on the RAF planes that sped over West Yorkshire last night:

What is a Typhoon?

Speed: 1,320mph (2,125 kmh)

Wing span: 10.95m

Length: 15.96m

Time to reach 35,000ft: 2.5mins

Aircraft in service: 215-

  • The world’s most advanced combat plane, manufactured by Eurofighter
  • A twin-engine stealth fighter capable of achieving subsonic and supersonic speeds
  • Made of carbon fibre with lightweight titanium - allowing it to stay in the air for longer
  • Can use shorter runways - an advantage in wartime conditions when no airfields available
  • It has both air-to-air and air-to-surface fighting capabilities
  • It has six air-to-air missiles, four laser-guided bombs and three fuel tanks
  • Complex autopilot - can also be used for ‘auto-attack’, ‘auto-approach’ and ‘auto-climb’
  • If the pilot becomes disoriented during flight, the Typhoon can be button-activated to automatically recover itself to a level wing position at 300 knots with a slight climbing altitude
  • Eurofighter is jointly owned by the UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany. It was launched in 2004.
  • About 100,000 European jobs are supported by the Eurofighter progamme

READ MORE: Why were sonic booms heard over Yorkshire last night?

Typoon pilots on standby 24 hours a day

Typhoon pilots are on standby 24 hours a day to defend UK airspace.

Squadrons are based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, covering the south of the country, and RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, to cover the north.

The Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) crews can take off within minutes to intercept aircraft which have caused concern.

This can be because they are Russian military aircraft, or civilian planes which have stopped communicating with air traffic control, are not following their flight plan or have sent an emergency signal.

On some occasions pilots are given permission to fly at supersonic speeds - which may results in a sonic boom - to reach the aircraft as soon as possible.

Supersonic flight and sonic booms: Watch AVweb.com's guide

Video thumbnail, AVWeb's guide to supersonic flight and sonic booms (credit AVweb.com)
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QRA crews launched 12 times in 2015

Ministry of Defence figures show that QRA were launched on 12 days last year - eight in response to Russian aircraft and four to investigate other planes.

In January 2015 Typhoons were scrambled when two Russian Tu-95 Bear planes were flying close to UK airspace.

The Foreign Office said the incident was part of an “increasing pattern of out-of-area operations by Russian aircraft”.

The Russian ambassador was summoned to account for what had happened.

Typhoons are under the direction of controllers at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland and RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, although any decision to shoot down an aircraft could only be taken at a high political level.