RAF Typhoons intercept Russian refueling plane over Baltic ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

RAF Typhoon intercepting a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 in an earlier incident.
RAF Typhoon intercepting a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 in an earlier incident. Source: U.K. Ministry of Defence.

NATO jets involved in Baltic air policing duties, were involved in intercepting a Russian Federation plane over the Baltic earlier in the week.

The planes, Typhoons from the U.K.'s Royal Air Force (RAF), were scrambled in response to a Russian Ilyushin IL-78 MIDAS air-to-air refueling aircraft, which was flying over the Baltic, in international airspace, close to Lithuania.

Russian military aircraft routinely fly between the Kaliningrad exclave, and the Russian "mainland", often cutting the corner by flying close to, and sometimes in, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian airspace, often necessitating the NATO jets' activity.

That Russian planes often fail to adhere to international flight protocols such as filing a flight plan, maintaining radio contact with regional air traffic control, or having a functioning transponder, exacerbates this.

The Typhoons are part of RAF 6 Squadron usually based in Lossiemouth, Scotland, and fly from Siauliai in Lithuania, which hosts air policing alongside Ämari, west of Tallinn. French air force planes are currently based at Ämari.

Lithuania's foreign ministry has provided the following data on NATO air policing in all three Baltic States, June 22-28:

  • Six scrambles carried out.
  • June 22: two Antonov An-26s (NATO reporting name: Curl) transport planes intercepted in two different incidents, flying from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia. Maintained radio contact and had a filed flight plan, but no functioning transponder.
  • June 25: an IL-20RT was intercepted; the plane adhered to international flight norms but was a different craft from that filed in the flight plan (an IL-18). Two Sukhoi Su-27s (NATO reporting name: Flanker) fighters flying to rendezvous with a Tupolev Tu-134 (NATO reporting name: Crusty) airliner. None of the planes had filed plans, kept up radio contact or used a transponder. All of them flew back to Kaliningrad. On the same day, another Tu-134 was intercepted as the two Sukhoi Su-35s escorting it had not adhered to flight norms.
  • June 27: NATO planes intercept an Ilyushin Il-76 (NATO reporting name: Candid)  airlifter flying between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia. A group of aircraft consisting of a Tu-134 and two escorting Sukhoi Su-35 multi-role fighters was intercepted, flying in the direction of mainland Russia. While the Tu-134 followed protocols, the two Su-35s did not; these returned to Russia. A group of aircraft consisting of a Tu-134 and two escorting Su-35s was intercepted, flying in the direction of mainland Russia. While the Tu-134 followed protocols, the two Su-35s did not; these returned to Russia.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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