Two Russian military aircraft were intercepted by Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter jets over the Baltic Sea earlier this week, Britain’s Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday. The RAF fighter jets were scrambled from the Amari air base in Estonia on Monday after the Russian planes approached the Baltic airspace without sharing a flight plan.
The RAF warplanes were initially deployed to intercept an II-20M “Coot” A surveillance aircraft near Baltic airspace. But they were re-tasked later to check a second unidentified aircraft, which turned out to be a Russian An-26 “Curl” transport plane, flying north from Kaliningrad, the defense ministry said.
“The interception of Russian military aircraft by our RAF Typhoon fighters underlines our commitment to NATO and the security of the Baltic region,” Michael Fallon, Britain’s secretary of state for defense, said in a statement. “RAF air and ground crew are doing vital work to defend the skies above and around the Baltic States and I look forward to seeing that work first hand in the near future.”
Four Typhoon jets were deployed to the Amari air base on May 1 to cooperate with Norwegian military aircraft to patrol Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, the Telegraph reported.
The defense ministry said that Monday’s mission was conducted by close teamwork between the Estonian Air Force and the RAF Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS).
“In this case the Typhoons were given the nod and the Estonian controllers hit the scramble button,” Flight Lieutenant Paul Griffin, detachment commander at the ASACS, said in the statement. “The Estonian controllers picked up the aircraft on their radar picture and evaluated whether it had a flight plan and its heading, height and speed.”
On Monday, the U.S. Navy released a video, showing two unidentified jets flying over a NATO maritime exercise, which comprised of dozens of ships and aircraft, in international waters in Baltic Sea. It was not clear if the jets were the same Russian aircraft intercepted by the RAF Typhoons.
The latest incident coincided with the G7 meeting in Germany, where world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, discussed maintaining economic sanctions on Russia over its alleged support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
“He's [Russian President Vladimir Putin] got to make a decision,” CNN quoted Obama as saying on Monday. “Does he continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire? Or does he recognize that Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?"