NATO Baltic air patrols intercepted Russian planes six times last week

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A Sukhoi-35 in Russian Federation service, photographed by the Finnish air force. Source: twitter.com/finnishairforce

NATO jets based in the Baltic States had to intercept Russian military planes six times last week, the Lithuanian defense ministry says.

NATO Baltic Air Policing missions fly out of Šiauliai, Lithuania, and Ämari. In the case of the latter, F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters from the Italian Air Force hold the role at present.

The jets generally intercept and escort the Russian planes within the range of the Baltic air policing territory.

All of the incidents reported took place in international airspace over the Baltic Sea and close to the Kaliningrad Exclave, a highly-militarized Russian zone. Russian planes flying between Kaliningrad and the Russian "mainland" often cut the corner by flying close to, or sometimes even inside, the airspace of the three Baltic States, while they frequently fail to meet some or all of the three-fold recognized international norms of having a functioning transponder "squawking" at a compatible frequency, filing a pre-flight plan and maintaining radio contact with local air traffic control.

The incidents last week were as follows – the types of Russian Federation planes involved were not reported.

Tuesday, July 13

-NATO planes intercepted one aircraft flying from Kaliningrad to the mainland of the Russian Federation. The flight had its transponder on, filed a flight plan and remained in contact with flight controllers in the region.

Wednesday, July 14

-NATO fighter aircraft intercepted one aircraft flying from Russia to the Kaliningrad exclave. While it maintained radio communication with the regional air traffic control center and filed a pre-flight plan, it did not have its transponder switched on.

Thursday, July 15

-NATO Air Policing detachment aircraft intercepted one aircraft flying from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia with its onboard transponder off, according to a pre-filed flight plan, maintaining radio communication with the regional air traffic control center.

- Fighter aircraft intercepted one aircraft flying in the opposite direction, from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad; its onboard transponder was off, though the crew had a pre-filed flight plan and maintained radio communication with the regional air traffic control center.

Saturday, July 17

-NATO fighter aircraft intercepted one aircraft flying from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad without using an onboard transponder or filing a flight plan. It maintained radio communication with the regional air traffic control center.

-NATO fighter aircraft intercepted one aircraft flying in the opposite direction from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia; again, its onboard transponder was off and no pre-filed flight plan had been submitted, though the crew maintained radio communication with the regional air traffic control center.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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