Alliance claims “atypical peak flights” near its airspace
NATO said it raised its fighters 10 times amid “atypical” levels of Russian air force activity over Europe.
Alliance aircraft flew on March 29 “to pursue Russian bombers and fighters during atypical peak flights over the North Atlantic, North Sea, Black Sea, and Baltic Sea,” NATO said in a statement.
“In total, NATO aircraft intercepted six different groups of Russian military aircraft near the alliance’s airspace in less than six hours,” the statement said.
Norwegian F-16 fighters intercepted two Tu-95 bombers, which continued to fly south over the North Sea, forcing the UK and Belgium to lift F-16 and Typhoon fighters.
On the same day, Norwegian warplanes intercepted two Russian Tu-160 bombers over international waters.
Turkish, Romanian, and Bulgarian fighters were launched after the alliance’s radars detected three Russian military aircraft near NATO airspace and tracked them until they left the area.
“In addition, an Italian fighter intercepted a Russian Il-38 naval patrol aircraft, which was escorted by fighters over the Baltic Sea, heading to and from the Kaliningrad region,” the statement said.
“The men and women of the two centers of joint air operations in Udem (Germany) and Torrejon (Spain) promptly responded to unidentified aircraft near the borders of the alliance, launching fighters from Norway, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey to investigate and protect the allied airspace, ”said Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, deputy chief of staff for operations at Joint Air Force Command in Ramstein, Germany.
He added that NATO’s air patrol mission is “a truly collective effort.”
“The interception of several groups of Russian aircraft demonstrates the readiness and ability of NATO forces to guard the skies of the Allies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said Brigadier General Hansen.
Russian aircraft intercepted on March 29 “never entered alliance airspace and the interceptions were carried out in a safe and normal manner,” NATO said.