RAF’s IX (B) Squadron and the German Air Force’s 71 ‘Richtofen’ Wing deployed Eurofighter Typhoons to intercept and visually confirm multiple unidentified aircraft that were flying in close proximity to NATO airspace. These two forces are currently collaborating under Operation Azotize to defend the eastern flank of NATO’s border.
Upon inspection, one of the aircraft was identified as a Russian Air Force IL-20 Coot-A intelligence aircraft that was in transit from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad enclave. The Coot-A was escorted by two Russian SU-27 Flanker-B fighter jets stationed in Kaliningrad as it traveled south through the north-western region of the Estonian flight information zone.
On Friday, RAF and @Team_Luftwaffe Typhoons intercepted 3 Russian aircraft near @NATO airspace. A Russian IL-20 intelligence aircraft & two SU-27 fighter jets were escorted out of Estonia’s flight info region.
— Royal Air Force (@RoyalAirForce) April 17, 2023
“We often see Russian military aircraft flying over the Baltic Sea and so this was a routine intercept for us. Nevertheless, the importance of intercepting these aircraft and our commitment to the collective defence of NATO airspace remains steadfast and resolute.
What this intercept has proven is that together with our German allies, we are able to act with speed and decisiveness to effectively ensure the Alliance’s security,” said the RAF pilot.
“This was another demonstration of our readiness and commitment to react at speed to conduct a live intercept. These combined RAF and German Air Force intercepts continue to enhance NATO cohesion, ensuring seamless cooperation and understanding during these missions,” said Wing Commander Maccoll, Commanding Officer of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing.
“Our allies and partners in the region should remain assured that NATO is here to stay, and the UK continues its commitment to collective defence of NATO Airspace.”
In March a Russian fighter jet collided with an unmanned drone over the Black Sea, forcing the drone to crash land. The actions by Russia demonstrate their willingness to use military force to achieve their geopolitical goals, which has raised concerns about escalating tensions.
BREAKING: U.S. military releases dramatic declassified video taken by MQ-9 Reaper drone that shows the moment that a Russian Su-27 fighter jet collided with it after attempting to spray the drone with jet fuel. https://t.co/XGoVQN7ppJ pic.twitter.com/X9vH6qtFGf
— ABC News (@ABC) March 16, 2023