RAF Typhoons were yesterday (Tuesday 17 June) scrambled to intercept multiple Russian aircraft as part of NATO’s ongoing mission to police Baltic airspace.
The Typhoon aircraft, from 3 (Fighter) Squadron, were launched after four separate groups of aircraft were detected by NATO air defences in international airspace near to the Baltic States.
Once airborne, the British jets identified the aircraft as a Russian Tupolev Tu22 ‘Backfire’ bomber, four Sukhoi Su27 ‘Flanker’ fighters, one Beriev A50 ‘Mainstay’ early warning aircraft and an Antonov An26 ‘Curl’ transport aircraft who appeared to be carrying out a variety of routine training. The Russian aircraft were monitored by the RAF Typhoons and escorted on their way.
The Typhoon pilots involved in the operation were Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Mark Long of 29 (Reserve) Squadron (the Typhoon operational training unit) and a French Air Force exchange pilot Commandant Marc-Antoine Gerrard who is currently attached to 1(Fighter) Squadron.
Flt Lt Long said: “The Typhoon is a superb aircraft that makes intercepting other aircraft exceptionally easy, today’s interception of the Russian Flankers is all in a day’s work for an RAF fighter pilot.”
Typhoon Detachment Commander Wing Commander Ian Townsend said:
“We regularly intercept Russian and civilian aircraft from UK Quick Reaction Alert and so this type of mission is core business for us and exactly what we were sent to the Baltic region by NATO to do. It was a thoroughly successful operation with both my groundcrew and aircrew performing to the exacting professional high standards I have come to expect.”
Baltic Air Policing
- Over the past 10 years the BAP mission has seen NATO allies deploy air defence fighter aircraft to secure NATO’s airspace over the Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The Baltic States do not have their own air defence fighters and the deployment of fighter jets, typically for four month periods, provides strong reassurance to our Allies in the region. The last time the RAF deployed on a BAP mission was in 2004 with the Tornado F3.
- In the last week, NATO aircraft have been scrambled 13 times due to unidentified aircraft operating around the Baltic region and this is the sixth intercept carried out by the RAF since they arrived in the region in May this year. A total of four RAF Typhoons normally based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, continue to support the Polish led NATO detachment in Lithuania.
- The Typhoon FGR4 provides the RAF with a multi-role combat aircraft, capable of being deployed in the full spectrum of air operations. A detachment of 4 Typhoon multi-role fighter aircraft arrived at Siauliai Air Base on 28 April ahead of a 4 month detachment alongside the Polish Air Force.
- A global Force – RAF Typhoons are also holding QRA duties in the UK and the Falkland Islands.