Fighter jets involved in NATO Baltic Air Policing duties were scrambled seven times last week, involved in the identification and escorting of Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic.
In the majority of cases, the Russian planes were flying without a functioning transponder squawking on a recognized frequency, without having filed a flight plan in advance and without maintaining radio contact with regional air traffic control, BNS reports.
Lithuania's defense ministry says that the incidents were as follows:
Monday, September 20: NATO jets involved in two separate incidents escorting an Il-20 turboprop airliner and a Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) plane.
Tuesday, September 21: On three separate occasions, NATO jets escorted a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber (NATO reporting name: "Blackjack"), flying between the Kaliningrad exclave and the Russian mainland and escorted by Sukhoi Su-27 and Sukhoi Su-35 ("Flanker" and "Flanker-E" - the Su-35 is a derivative of the Su-27) fighters.
Wednesday, September 22: An A-50 and an Il-20 flying together out of Kaliningrad were escorted.
Thursday, September 23: An Il-20 flying to the Kaliningrad region was identified.
NATO Baltic Air Policing duties fly from Ämari and from Šiauliai, Lithuania. A common occurrence is when Russian planes flying between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia fly close to the Baltic States coastlines, which was what happened in all the above incidents.
Another common hotspot is the uninhabited Estonian island of Vaindloo, in the Gulf of Finland, where Russian planes occasionally enter into Estonian airspace.
Editor: Andrew Whyte