Typhoon fighter jets operating from Ämari Air Base in Estonia launched on Sunday to intercept a Russian IL-76 military transport aircraft that was flying near to Estonian airspace.

The Ministry of Defence advise that is a routine NATO mission for the Typhoons which provides reassurance that the UK is there to work in partnership with Estonia.

The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said:

“As this latest Quick Reaction Alert demonstrates, the RAF are frequently called upon to use their world class skills and capabilities to help police and protect the skies over the Baltics. Our personnel deployed to Estonia and around the world are always ready to react to any scenario as we continue our commitment to our NATO allies.”

 A Typhoon pilot from XI(Fighter) Squadron, attached to 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), was conducting Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty when the scramble was called. He said in a press release:

“We were scrambled to intercept an aircraft that was approaching Estonian airspace from the south.  We identified and monitored it as it transited close to NATO airspace.  This is standard protocol for aircraft that might not be communicating with Air Traffic Control or on a recognised flight plan. We continued to escort the transport aircraft as it transited in a north direction, away from Estonian airspace.”

The Royal Air Force is deployed on Operation AZOTIZE in Estonia in support of Baltic Air Policing.

The MoD say that this is the 14th QRA scramble and intercept since the RAF took over enhanced Air Policing (eAP) from the German Air Force on the 3rd of May 2019 as part of Baltic Air Policing.

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I see the typhoons still have the “photoshoped” stickers…


What’s with the airconditioning units strapped the IL-76 fuselage?
Decoys? Jammers…? Never seen them before.

Nigel Collins

Chinese manufactured Stealth Airconditioning units most probably.
I’ve seen them advertised on eBay I think!


It would not surprise me if they are radars designed to capture the signatures of NATO assets in the hope of luring an F35 out.

Or they could part of the defensive aids suite (chaff dispensers etc)


Why don’t the Brits’ fly loops over the “enemy” aircraft, ect like the Commies do when they intercept a NATO aircraft? haha


Because we are grown up and professional?

Nigel Collins

It appears Tempest has some competition!

“European FCAS fighter to be optimised for carrier ops”

“The manned New Generation Fighter (NGF) component of the Future Combat Air System/Système de Combat Aérien Futur (FCAS/SCAF) being jointly developed by Dassault Aviation and Airbus will be optimised for carrier operations from the outset, a source close to the programme has confirmed to Jane’s.”

Nigel Collins

Time to move on to the next phase of upgrading Typhoon too.
Hopefully with the upgraded EJ200 powerplant.

“Image confirms J-20 fighter assigned to PLAAF combat unit at Wuhu”

Chris H

@Nigel Collins – With the French involved this was a given even if they only have the one carrier. Apart from ‘minor issues’ like wanting SNECMA engines and full manufacturing control a lack of a carrier capable Typhoon was why they fell out with the consortium which IMHO was something we should have built in to Typhoon from Day One. Early design is not expensive while altering an established design is VERY expensive. Of course the reasons why Typhoon was never optimised for carrier use was a) we and the Italians didn’t have any CATOBAR carriers and b) the Germans… Read more »

Nigel Collins

It’s time to move on and focus on “NEW” partnerships, hopefully, ones we can trust!

Chris H

@ Nigel Collins – I think that is absolutely right. I have developed a great admiration for the Italians and how they worked for exports with us in the Typhoon project and developed a Final Assembly Line for the F-35 giving us and them a unique 5th Gen capability in Europe. We have a long and productive relationship with Leonardo (ex Finnmecanica) at Westlands, with Tornado and on Typhoon and now they are initial partners in Tempest. I was hoping for more from Sweden (SAAB) but who knows maybe there is more to this than meets the eye. Still its… Read more »


Quelle surprise

Bloke down the pub

So the Russian aircraft approached Estonian airspace from the south and left heading north. Be interested to see how that was achieved without flying over Estonia, unless it was never on a course that took it over in the first place.