Both NATO member detachments in the Baltics conducted their first alert scramble this week performing visual identification of Russian Federation aircraft that flew in international airspace close to NATO territory and were not on a flight plan.
Around noon on September the 5th, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem
, Germany ordered the German Eurofighters at Ämari, Estonia, to take off to successively check on two Russian Federation aircraft.
The IL-76 and An-26 military transport aircraft were flying in international airspace from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia. After successful identification the NATO fighters safely returned to Ämari Air Base.
A Belgian F-16 fighter jet approaching a Russian Federation An-12 transport aircraft during the first intercept of the Belgian Baltic Air Policing detachment. (Photo courtesy Belgian Air Force)
Later the day, the Combined Air Operations Centre detected another track and ordered two Belgian F-16 fighter jets to launch and identify the Russian Federation An-12 transport aircraft flying from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad enclave. This mission was also accomplished safely and the jets returned to the Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, in the early afternoon.
The Belgian and German fighters are conducing NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission safeguarding the skies over the Baltics and adjacent international airspace. The Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem and the Baltic Control and Reporting Centre at Karmelava, Lithuania, have 24/7 awareness of activities in the airspace.
NATO say that presently, the Belgian F-16s and the German Typhoons provide the quick reaction alert interceptors that will be launched within minutes to respond predictably and professionally to any unclear aerial situation.