The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has released details of an interception its fighter jets made after Russian aircraft were detected flying near NATO airspace.
According to the RAF on April 18. 2023, Eurofighter Typhoons from the IX (B) Squadron and the German Air Force’s 71 ‘Richtofen’ Wing were scrambled in eastern Europe after a number of unidentified aircraft had been detected close to NATO airspace.
It is understood that the Russian Air Force IL-20 Coot-A intelligence aircraft was travelling from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad enclave over the Gulf of Finland and Baltic Sea.
It was joined by two Russian Sukhoi SU-27 Flanker-B fighter jets based in Kaliningrad, which escorted the Coot-A south through the north-west area of the Estonian flight information region.
“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,” an unnamed RAF pilot said.
The pilot added: “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.”
Photos published by the RAF show the Russian spy plane mid-flight accompanied by one of the Su-27 fighter jets and reveals how close the aircraft come together during an interception.
The RAF confirmed British jets and German Typhoons escorted the Coot-A and Flanker-Bs through 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 operating Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets out of Amari Air Base in Estonia as a combined force and this is the fifth joint intercept that the nations have conducted.
According to the US files the incident was described as “a near-shoot down of UK RJ [Rivet Joint – ed. note].”
On September 29, 2022, the RC-135 Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft was travelling through international airspace when it was approached by a number of Russian fighter jets.
The British Defense Minister, Ben Wallace, told the UK Parliament at the time that a Russian Su-27 fighter fired a missile near an RAF spy plane on patrol over the Black Sea. However, the UK government accepted the Russian explanation the incident was an accident.