On February 17, two Spanish Eurofighters took off from Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria following orders from the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Torrejón, Spain, to investigate airborne activity. After confirming there had been no violation of Allied airspace, the fighters returned to base, where they are undertaking the NATO enhanced Air Policing mission.
The next day (18 February 2022), Belgian F-16 aircraft intercepted three Russian planes, two SU-27 fighters and an IL-22 COOT flying over the Baltic Sea. The Belgian Air Force jets were launched from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, where they work alongside Estonian colleagues to execute the enhanced Air Policing mission, to identify the Russian aircraft.
Polish F-16 fighters on NATO enhanced Air Policing intercepted a TU-134 CRUSTY flying near Allied air space and routing towards the North sea. Photograph courtesy of the Polish Air Force.
Also on 18 February, two Polish F-16s intercepted five Russian aircraft flying near Allied airspace routing towards the North Sea. The Polish aircrew identified a TU-134 CRUSTY transport aircraft being escorted by two MiG-31 Foxhounds and two Su-27 Flankers. The aircraft had filed no flight plan and did not communicate with Air Traffic Control, thereby posing a potential risk to other air users.
Between the 17 and 20 February, Italian Eurofighters assigned to NATO's enhanced Air Policing mission at Mihail Kogălniceanu airfield in Romania scrambled on multiple occasions in response to non-NATO military aircraft operating over the Black Sea. Currently, the Romanian Air Force is working alongside air force personnel of the Italian, German, and US Air Forces, as NATO strengthens its defensive presence in south-east Europe.
All intercepts were conducted in a professional manner. At no time did non-NATO aircraft violate Allied airspace.