Russia keeps NATO Baltic Air Patrol busy with transport aircrafts
Fighters from the NATO Baltic Air Patrol mission took to the air five times last week to identify and escort the Russian military aircraft, reports the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense. As per NATO website, “Allies take turns deploying to air bases at Šiauliai, Lithuania and Ämari, Estonia, on a four-month rotational basis, ready to be launched by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany if required. The Air Forces of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia contribute to the mission with host nation support in the form of air command and control infrastructure and personnel.”
On April 13 the NATO fighter jets escorted an IL-76, which flew in international airspace from the Kaliningrad region (Kaliningrad Oblast) to the Russian mainland. The aircraft flew without a flight plan, with a radar transponder on, radio communication with the Regional Air Traffic Control Center (RSVC).
On the same day, an AN-12 flying in international airspace from the Russian mainland to the Kaliningrad region was escorted by the fighters. The aircraft flew with the flight plan, without a radar transponder, maintained radio communication with the RSVC.
On April 14, the NATO fighters escorted an AN-26 which flew in international airspace from the Russian mainland to the Kaliningrad region. The aircraft flew without a flight plan, without a radar transponder, maintained radio communication with RSVC.
On April 16, the NATO planes had to escort and AN-26, which flew from the Kaliningrad region to the Russian mainland. The aircraft flew without a flight plan, without a radar transponder, maintained radio communication with RSVC. The same fighters also escorted an IL-76 flying from the Kaliningrad region to the Russian mainland. The aircraft flew without a flight plan, with a radar transponder, maintained radio communication with RSVC.
On April 17, an A-50 flew from the Russian mainland in international airspace to the Kaliningrad region. The aircraft flew without a flight plan and radar transponder, and radio communication with RSVC was maintained.
The three Baltic States had joined NATO in 2004 and a NATO Air Policing unit was set up at the Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania. After Russia annexed Crimea, NATO set up another unit at the Ämari Air Base, Estonia under NATO’s Assurance Measures to its Eastern Allies.
“Fighter aircraft assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission are often launched to visually identify Russian Federation Air Force aircraft. A high proportion of Russian Federation Air Force flight activity is due to the geographical situation of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad; Russian Federation Air Force aircraft regularly fly from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad and vice versa. They often approach or fly near NATO airspace without using transponders, communicating with Air Traffic Control or having filed a flight plan,” adds the NATO website. An Italian Air Force detachment with Eurofighters is manning the Air Police unit in Lithuanian. NATO’s Baltic Air Patrol mission has reportedly been carried out from bases in Lithuania and Estonia.
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