The RAF fighter jets took to the skies to investigate five unidentified aircraft flying in international airspace along the northern and western borders of Estonia.
The RAF jets, which have been deployed in Estonia since April, initially shadowed two Su-27 Flanker fighters and an IL-20 ‘Coot-A’ Reconnaissance aircraft to the north of Estonia when two more Su-27 Flankers were detected and intercepted. The Russian military aircraft were operating without transmitting recognised identification codes nor were they communicating with regional air traffic control centres.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
For the second time in a week, the RAF have been on hand to respond to Russian activity at a moment’s notice. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we will continue to secure the Baltic skies on behalf of NATO and our allies.
The lead Typhoon pilot said:
The Baltic Control and Reporting Centre had radar contact on the unidentified aircraft and ordered us to scramble, as always we were airborne in minutes and intercepted and identified the variety of Russian military aircraft. We remain on standby all day, every day to respond to any requests of this nature, this is what we do.
The Commanding Officer of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing, Wing Commander Gordon Melville, said:
Today we again demonstrated the RAF’s ability to launch our Quick Reaction Alert aircraft quickly to investigate aircraft operating in the vicinity of the Baltic states as part of our support to the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. Several years’ experience operating in this area indicates that we can expect further similar activity in the months ahead. Our mission continues, and our NATO allies can stand assured of the UK’s full support for their defence.
This is the third consecutive year in which the UK has committed to the Baltic Air Policing Mission, the latest rotation sees four RAF Typhoon and pilots from II (Army Co-operation) Squadron from Royal Air Force Lossiemouth deployed to Amari Air Base in Estonia. The RAF Typhoon Sqn, which will remain on BAP until the end of August, is operating alongside Portugese F-16s based in Siauliai in Lithuania.
During the last UK rotation, the Typhoon fighters were scrambled 17 times and intercepted more than 40 Russian aircraft.