Typhoon aircraft, deployed as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, have reportedly intercepted two Russian aircraft over the Baltic Sea. The jets were launched from Amari Air base in Estonia after the planes approached Baltic airspace without sharing a flight plan.
The first aircraft was identified as a Il-20M ‘Coot’-A, a Russian surveillance aircraft, the second was identified as an An-26 ‘Curl’ transport plane flying north from Kaliningrad. Air Surveillance and Control System detachment commander at Amari, Flight Lieutenant Paul “Griff” Griffin said:
In this case the Typhoons were given the nod and the Estonian controllers hit the scramble button. The Estonian controllers picked up the aircraft on their radar picture and evaluated whether it had a flight plan and its heading, height and speed. Once it was clear it was an unknown they gave it an appropriate identification colour which made it stand out on our radar scopes. Once airborne it was my job to ensure a quick and efficient intercept, steering the Typhoons to intercept the unknown aircraft.
Four Typhoons are deployed to Amari and are operating alongside Norwegian aircraft between May and August, working to secure NATO’s airspace over the Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The intercepts are the Typhoon’s fourth tasking since deploying to the Baltic in May.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
The interception of Russian military aircraft by our RAF Typhoon fighters underlines our commitment to NATO and the security of the Baltic region. RAF air and ground crew are doing vital work to defend the skies above and around the Baltic States and I look forward to seeing that work first hand in the near future.
This comes as HMS Ocean and a fleet of allied vessels take part on the ‘BALTOPS’ exercise in the Baltic Sea.
Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) is an annual military exercise is hosted by the United States 6th Fleet and aims to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through “partnership” working and the sharing of resources, taking place in the Baltic Sea and around the coast of Poland. Beginning on June the 5th it will involve nearly 4500 personnel, 47 ships, and 49 aircraft from 17 nations, including a 700-strong amphibious landing force. The exercise will practice a range of capabilities, including anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, and amphibious landings.