In the span of a week, Eurofighter Typhoon jets assigned to NATO Baltic Air Policing mission identified and escorted two Russian military aircraft as they were flying out of Kaliningrad.
“Fighters performing NATO air policing functions in the Baltic States have twice identified and escorted Russian Federation military aircraft flying over the Baltic Sea in the international space,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense reports.
On November 2, 2020, NATO air defense radars identified an Antonov An-26 flying from the landlocked region of Kaliningrad towards the Russian mainland. The aircraft flew without a flight plan but with its radar transponder on. It maintained radio communication with the Regional Air Traffic Control Center throughout the flight. Typhoons were scrambled to intercept the aircraft and escort it.
On November 6, 2020, another An-26 flying out of Kaliningrad Oblast was spotted. This time, however, the military transport aircraft kept its transponder off. Again, NATO fighters were sent for visual identification and to escort the plane.
Since September 2020, the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission is led by the Aeronautica Militare, the Italian Air Force, from the Lithuanian Air Base in Šiauliai, with the assistance of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, operating from the Estonian Air Base in Amari. The two contingents deployed are flying the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.