Russian aircraft violates Estonia's airspace
A Russian IL-20 reconnaissance plane entered Estonian airspace without permission on Tuesday evening. Russian ambassador Yuri Merzlyakov will be issued a démarche over airspace violation.
The intrusion happened at 17:05 on December 9 near Osmussaare islet in the northeastern Estonia, about 7.5 kilometers from the mainland. The Russian IL-20 stayed in Estonian airspace for less than a minute.
The plane did not have a flight plan and the transponder was switched off. However, it did have radio contact with Estonian air traffic controllers, said Estonian Defense Forces Headquarters.
The border violation was logged by the Ämari air force base. German Eurofighter jets that were already airborne at the time established visual contact with the IL-20 and identified an illegal entry to Estonia's airspace.
Another identification of the same aircraft was made by Šiauliais-based Canadian CF-18 fighters.
This was the seventh intrusion in 2014, the last having occurred on October to the west of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa islands. Back then, Estonian Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Janek Lehiste said that the IL-20 is used by the Russian military for electronic spying. Russia denied violating Estonia's airspace.
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Riivo Valge told ERR radio news that the number of Russian military aircrafts in the Baltic Sea region has dramatically increased from the end of last week. "We are talking about 20-30 aircrafts, bustling in on civil aviation," he said, adding that such actions are probably meant to send a political signal but they also pose a serious threat to civil flights.