NATO fighter jets stationed in the Baltic states as part of the NATO air policing mission were scrambled three times last week, identifying and escorting Russian Federation military aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Lithuania's defense ministry said on Monday, as reported by BNS.
Russian Sukhoi Su-27 multirole fighter and Su-24MR all-weather attack aircraft were reportedly intercepted on two occasions, and an Antonov An-26 transport aircraft was intercepted once.
The aircraft were flying to or from the Kaliningrad exclave, which is separated from the Russian ''mainland'' by Lithuanian, Polish and Belarusian sovereign territory. Since such journeys are thus generally conducted over the Baltic Sea, in international airspace, and since such flights often do not file a flight plan, maintain radio communication with regional air traffic controllers, nor have functioning, compatible transponders switched on, such incidents are common.
NATO air policing duties are operated from bases at Ämari, west of Tallinn, and Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania, with aircraft from several NATO countries, including Germany, Italy and Spain, having taken part.
Editor: Andrew Whyte