Britain and Spain faced another round of diplomatic tension on Wednesday night after four Spanish jets “buzzed” over the BOT Gibraltar, causing delay to a commercial flight. Reports collected by the Gibraltar Chronicle indicate eyewitnesses said the Matador jets flew in from behind Los Barrios and very close to the north end of the Rock.
But Britain’s Ministry of Defence played down the incident and insisted there was no evidence to suggest the Spanish planes entered Gibraltar airspace.
Either way, the planes flew close enough to generate alarm and prompt an angry response from the Gibraltar Government.
“The Government of Gibraltar has called on the UK to take up the matter of this military incursion into the airspace of Gibraltar at the highest diplomatic and military levels,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement. British officials in the Convent have already taken up the matter.
“We have raised this with London and Madrid,” a Convent spokesman said.
Officials believe Spanish military assets operating in the area are increasingly approaching the Rock to “clip the edges” of Gibraltar’s territorial jurisdiction and make their presence felt.
The concern is that the incident was ‘an aerial version of Spanish incursions detected at sea’.
However the incident was seen as a possible innocent by-product of Spanish military exercise in the Strait of Gibraltar, and that there was no incursion.
The four planes – the Spanish version of the Harrier jet – were flying back to the Spanish aircraft carrier Juan Carlos I, which was on a training exercise about 10 miles southeast off the Rock.
The jets approached the Rock from the northwest before turning east out into the Mediterranean and south toward the ship.