NATO jets scrambled in response to two Russian flights last week
NATO's fighter-jets policing Baltic airspace were last week scrambled once to intercept Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Monday.
On Tuesday, December 14, NATO planes investigated an Antonov An-12 turboprop transporter aircraft (NATO code-name: Cub).
While the plane was in international airspace and was on its way from the Kaliningrad exclave to "mainland" Russia, its crew had not met two of the three standard criteria in international aviation etiquette, namely failing to file a pre-flight plan and failing to maintain radio contact with local air traffic control.
The plane did have a functioning transponder at a recognized frequency, however, BNS reports.
A Tupolev Tu-134 jet airliner (NATO calling name: Crusty) was also intercepted while flying in the opposite direction, BNS reports. This time, no pre-flight plan had been filed, though the transponder and radio contact requirements were met.
NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission has been flown from Ämari and from Šiauliai, Lithuania, since 2014.
Last week's incidents required the scrambling of planes from Šialiai, a common occurence as Russian military planes often cut the corner when flying between Kaliningrad and elswhere in the Russian Federation.
Another hotspot is the uninhabited Estonian island of Vaindloo. Located in the Gulf of Finland, Russian planes have even entered Estonian airspace on occasion, albeit for short periods of time, over the islet.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte