NATO fighter jets patrolling the Baltic states' airspace were scrambled twice last week to intercept Russian military aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Lithuanian ministry of defence said on Thursday.
On 17 December, fighters of the alliance's Baltic air policing mission intercepted two Sukhoi Su-27 fighters flying from mainland Russia towards the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The Russian jets flew with their onboard transponders off, without having submitted flight plans, and without maintaining radio communication with the regional air traffic control centre.
An Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft also headed for Kaliningrad was intercepted on 20 December. While it was in touch with the air traffic controllers and there was a pre-filed flight plan, its onboard transponder was switched off.
The NATO air policing mission in the Baltic states is based at the Zokniai air base near Šiauliai, Lithuania as well as Estonia's Ämari air base.
Editor: Dario Cavegn