While Russian President Vladimir Putin announced during his visit to Finland that he was willing to discuss having Russian military jets flying over the Baltic Sea switch their transponders on, as it turns out, Russian military aircraft are not even equipped with transponders in the first place.
Estonian daily Postimees (link in Estonian) reported that while commercial and military aircraft normally fly in separate air corridors and at different altitudes, Russian military aircraft flying over the Baltic Sea have likely unintentionally come dangerously close to commercial flights.
Aircraft with their transponders switched off are invisible only to civil aviation; military radars, including those used in Estonia, can see all aircraft regardless off whether or not their transponders are switched on.
As it turns out, Russian military aircraft have nothing to switch on, however, as they are not equipped with the means of identification referred to in civil aviation as transponders.
The Russian military jets' lack of this equipment was confirmed to Postimees by Moscow's well known independent military expert Pavel Felgenhauer, Russian test pilot Alexander Garnaev and a Russian officer who spoke on condition of anonymity as they lacked permission to provide comments to journalists.
Transponders, the modern identification equipment used by commercial aircraft, transmit an aircraft's serial number, call sign, the transponder's own factory number, aircraft altitude, speed and course as well as GPS coordinates.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla