Second scramble for close-straying aircraft this year

NATO Baltic Air Police (BAP) jets were up at the edge of Latvia's airspace Tuesday to intercept another of Russia's military Ilyushin IL-20 reconnaissance aircraft - also known as 'coots' - that came close to the national territory while flying along neutral international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

The Twitter feed of Latvia's National Armed Forces (NBS) was the source of the news, which had become quite routine during the second half of 2014, but had quieted down during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, when the periodically stormy weather may have discouraged unnecessary buzzings.

Last week the hiatus was interrupted when BAP jets scrambled to intercept an Ilyushin-78 refueler.

Meanwhile, over the weekend Russia's Ambassador to Latvia Aleksandr Veshnyakov told the media Latvia was putting too much weight on the flight plans of regular Russian air force and navy craft and blowing the issue out of proportion to its true insignificance in terms of supplying Kaliningrad enclave's naval base.

"Yes, there's the railway, too, but it crosses many state borders with the accompanying customs difficulties. So as before the job is being done, including by military craft, by this route. Any state which has warplanes must keep them maintained in adequate order. Therefore there are training needs for the skills necessary to fly them and realize all of their intended functions," he said.

The Ambassador also expressed the opinion that Russia was in no violation of any international aviation regulations.

"If we're going to talk recriminations about airplanes flying without turning on their transponders, then in accordance with international regulations, military airplanes flying along corridors that do not intersect with civil aircraft pathways, have no obligation to do so," Veshnyakov pointed out. 


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