NATO radars recorded an unidentified track in international airspace over the southern Black Sea heading to Romanian airspace. Around noon on March 4, the southern Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejón, Spain, scrambled Spanish Eurofighters stationed in Romania conducting NATO's enhanced Air Policing mission.
The Spanish aircrew demonstrated NATO's ability to quickly respond to situations arising near Alliance airspace
"During the alert mission, our Eurofighters identified two Russian Su-30 military aircraft that were flying without transponder signal and flight plan, not in contact with civilian Air Traffic Control," said Lieutenant Colonel José Enrique Hernández Medel, Spanish detachment commander at Mihail Koglaniceanu Air Base. "My aircrew conducted this first alert mission professionally under the tactical control of the Romanian Control and Reporting Centre. They shadowed the Russian aircraft demonstrating NATO's ability to quickly respond to situations arising near Alliance air space," he added.
The Russian fighters operated over international airspace all the time; once they turned and headed back north east, the Spanish Eurofighters redeployed to their temporary home base on the Black Sea shore.
A Spanish Euofighter overflying Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base near Constanta, Romania, after taking off to conduct the first alert mission of the Spanish Detachment safeguarding NATO airspace in the Black Sea region. Photo by Spanish Air Force
Since 2014, NATO has authorized additional fighter detachments along the eastern flank of the Alliance to demonstrate readiness to defend and deter eastern Allies against any potential aggression. Several Allies have deployed their fighter detachment to the Romanian Air Base at Constanta to fly NATO enhanced Air Policing missions alongside Romania's Air Force. At present the Spanish Eurofighters are deployed to the enduring mission for the first time underscoring cohesion and solidarity among the Allies.