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 Mar 30 2021

NATO jets intercept Russian warplanes during unusual level of air activity

RAMSTEIN, Germany - NATO fighter jets scrambled ten times on Monday, March 29, 2021, to shadow Russian bombers and fighters during an unusual peak of flights over the North Atlantic, North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea. In all, NATO aircraft intercepted different groups of Russian military aircraft near Alliance airspace in less than six hours.

“Intercepting multiple groups of Russian aircraft demonstrates NATO forces' readiness and capability to guard Allied skies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year," said Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at Allied Air Command, Ramstein, Germany. 

NATO’s air policing mission is a truly collective effort

In the High North, Norwegian F-16s scrambled after radars spotted two groups of Russian military aircraft flying near Norway’s coast. The Norwegian jets intercepted two Tu-95 Bear bombers, which continued to fly south over the North Sea prompting the United Kingdom and Belgium to scramble Typhoon and F-16 fighters, respectively. Later in the day, the Norwegian F-16s intercepted two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers over international waters.

NATO radars also detected three Russian military aircraft near Allied airspace over the Black Sea. Turkish, Romanian and Bulgarian fighter aircraft took to the skies to track the Russian aircraft until they had left the  area.  Separately,   Italian   fighter   aircraft   inter-

cepted a Russian Il 38 maritime patrol aircraft which was escorted by fighter jets over the Baltic Sea flying into and out of Kaliningrad.

“The men and women at NATO’s two Combined Air Operations Centres in Uedem, Germany, and Torrejón, Spain, quickly responded to unidentified aircraft near the Alliance’s borders by launching fighters from Norway, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey to investigate and protect allied airspace”, Brigadier Hansen said, adding that NATO’s Air Policing mission is a “truly collective effort”.

Russian military aircraft often do not transmit a transponder code indicating their position and altitude, do not file a flight plan, or do not communicate with air traffic controllers, posing a potential risk to civilian airliners. The Russian aircraft intercepted on Monday never entered Alliance airspace, and the interceptions were conducted in a safe and routine manner. 

Safeguarding the integrity of Alliance members’ airspace is a peacetime task contributing to NATO’s collective defence and falls under the overall responsibility of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod Wolters.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

An Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon escorting a group of Russian military aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea off the Lithuanian Coast during an intercept on March 29, 2021. Photo by Italian Air Force.
During one of the events, the Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters launched from RAF Lossiemouth to intercept 2 Russian TU-142 ‘BEAR-F’. Photo Crown Copyright.
The Royal Air Force A330 MRTT Voyager "Vespina" tanker aircraft landing at RAF Brize Norton after the intercept following air-to-air-refuelling support for the RAF Typhoons. Photo Crown Copyright
Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 fighter jets intercepted this one of two Russian Tu-160 bombers during a flight in international airspace above the North Sea on March 29, 2021. Photo by Royal Norwegian Air Force.

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