Estonia: RAF Quick Reaction Alert scramble and intercept

11 June, 2019

Screenshot 2019-06-11 at 8.57.17 PM - Edited
11th June 2019 at 1:42pm

Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets have intercepted two Russian transport aircraft.
The two Antonov AN-24 aircraft (NATO callsign ‘Coke’) were flying in international airspace close to Estonia from the south.
It is the sixth Quick Reaction Alert scramble and intercept since the RAF took over enhanced Air Policing from the German Air Force in May.

NATO Baltic Air policing duties have seen a change of guard at Ämari air base, west of Tallinn, with Eurofighter aircraft from the UK’s Royal Air Force replacing their German Luftwaffe counterparts. The four planes, Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role, twin-engine fighter jets, arrived towards the end of April, from XI(F) Squadron, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, England.
NATO Baltic air policing duties operate from two bases; in addition to Ämari, the base at Šiauliai, Lithuania, is also utlilized for the role.

Planes from the latter base are frequently scrambled in interception and escort duties, responding to military flights from the Russian Federation in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, close to the Lithuanian coast, often without pre-filed flight plans or functioning transponders on the required frequency. Such flights usually involve planes flying to or from the Kaliningrad exclave, a part of the Russian Federation cut off from the rest of the country and bordering two EU and NATO states, Poland and Lithuania.

Also Hungarian and Spanish jets officially replaced Polish planes, at Šiauliai, BNS reports, citing the Lithunian defense ministry. Hungary, which is leading the NATO air policing role, has deployed four Swedish-manufactured Saab JAS 39 Gripen single-engine multi-role fighters, from the Magyar Légierő, that country’s air force. The Spanish Ejército del Aire contingent comprises five US-built McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, twin-engine jets.

Estonia joined NATO in 2004, and aircraft from 17 different countries have taken part in the air policing role since then, according to BNS. The mission took on a new immediacy following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.

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