RAF Typhoons intercept Russian fighter jets and spy plane near NATO airspace

The Russian planes were spotted over the eastern part of Nato’s border, near Estonia

Joe Middleton
Monday 17 April 2023 17:02 BST
RAF Typhoons intercept Russian fighter jets and spy plane near NATO airspace
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The Royal Air Force (RAF) has intercepted two Russian fighter jets and a spy plane flying close to NATO airspace over the Gulf of Finland and Baltic Sea.

The Eurofighter Typhoons from the RAF’s IX (B) Squadron and the German Air Force’s 71 ‘Richtofen’ Wing were scrambled to the eastern part of NATO’s border, close to Estonia on Friday.

One of the planes was a Russian Air Force IL-20 Coot-A intelligence plane which was flying from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad, an enclave which borders Poland. It was being escorted by two Russian SU-27 Flanker-B fighter jets.

A pilot involved in the operation said: “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.”

The three Russian planes were the Estonian flight information region before handing over to Saab Gripen fighters of the Swedish Air Force.

The Royal Air Force and German Air Force are currently operating Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets out of Amari Air Base in Estonia.

They are working in partnership as part of Operation Azotize, which protects the eastern flank of NATO’s border.

Wing Commander Maccoll Commanding Officer of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing, said: “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.

“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.”

It comes just days after leaked documents showed that a Russian fighter jet attempted to fire a missile at a manned British aircraft over the Black Sea last September.

The pilot had locked on to the British aircraft but suffered a malfunction, according to the leaked classified intelligence papers reported by the New York Times.

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