British jets perform Baltic interceptions

British fighter jets taking part in NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission have been kept busy in recent days, according to a release from the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence.

Royal Air Force jets deployed in Estonia were scrambled twice over the weekend of 14-15 June to intercept Russian aircraft, it stated.

"This weekend’s activity means that RAF jets operating from Ämari Air Base in Estonia have made eight intercepts of Russian aircraft since taking over the Baltic Air Policing mission on 3 May 2019," the release said.

On the evening of June 14 Typhoon jets launched to intercept a Russian SU-30 fighter aircraft that was flying to the north of Estonia. A Typhoon pilot from XI (Fighter) Squadron on duty when the scramble was called said:

We were scrambled to intercept a contact close to Estonian airspace in the early evening, between two periods of poor weather. Shortly after getting airborne we came alongside a SU-30 Flanker fighter aircraft. We escorted the fighter over the Baltic sea, around Estonia and passing over another Russian military transport aircraft in the process.

RAF crews made a second scramble on Saturday 15 June to intercept a Russian SU-30 Flanker fighter and an Ilyushin IL-76 Candid transport aircraft transiting north from Kaliningrad towards Estonian and Finnish airspace.

A Typhoon pilot from XI (Fighter) Squadron on completion of the intercept said:

We scrambled to intercept two contacts that were approaching Estonian airspace from the south. We escorted the two aircraft for 15 minutes as they transited back towards mainland Russia. We then handed over responsibility to two Finnish QRA aircraft, which had also been scrambled as the Russian aircraft operated on the airspace boundary between Estonia and Finland.

"During both intercepts, the aircraft were flown at a safe distance and operated in a professional manner throughout," the release said.

The Royal Air Force fighter aircraft are deployed to the Baltic region to safeguard Allied airspace over Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and adjacent international airspace under NATO’s peacetime Baltic Air Policing mission as the Baltic states lack suitable aircraft of their own.

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