German Eurofighters on NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission scrambled three times from Ämari Air Base in Estonia on Wednesday the 21st of November, to intercept four Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea.
According to a statement released by the alliance, NATO radars picked up the signal of an aircraft flying out of Kaliningrad near the Lithuanian coastline at 8:30 am local time.
“Since the plane had not filed a flight plan, two Eurofighters took to the sky and conducted a visual identification of a Russian AN-26 transport aircraft an hour later. A second track was picked up at approximately 10:30 am and a Eurofighter launched to escort a Russian MiG-29 fighter aircraft flying close to NATO airspace.
Later the same day, Allied radars picked up two further aircraft tracks leaving mainland Russia.
Two Eurofighters launched to execute a visual identification of two Russian IL-76 strategic transport aircraft, which had not filed a flight plan. After being met in the sky by NATO fighters, the Russian planes continued their flight towards Kaliningrad.”
All Russian aircraft involved operated in international airspace. The intercepts conducted by NATO were a routine and precautionary measure.
NATO say its Baltic Air Policing mission has helped to monitor and protect the integrity of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s airspace since the three nations joined the Alliance in 2004.
“Different NATO nations take turns providing rotations of fighters to provide this capability, in a strong sign of Allied solidarity. Yesterday’s intercepts demonstrated the preparedness and vigilance of the German detachment and NATO’s Air Command in Ramstein which coordinated the intercepts.”
Since 31 August 2018, the German detachment has conducted almost 20 alert launches out of Ämari Air Base. The mission is currently led by a Belgian Air Force detachment of F-16 fighters deployed to Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania. Since Belgium took up duty on 3 September 2018, the Belgian jets have executed over a dozen alert scrambles, say NATO.