RAF Typhoons Intercept Russian Aircraft Over the Baltic Area


2015-06-18 According to a story in The Daily Mail, Russian air activity around the Baltic area has been stepped up.

RAF Typhoons which are part of NATO’s Baltic air patrol mission intercepted the aircraft.

British warplanes scrambled to intercept nine Russian aircraft within hours after they flew menacingly close to the Baltic States in what was described as the biggest act of provocation since the Cold War.

Moscow sent the world’s fastest supersonic fighter jet, along with spy planes and bombers to ‘snoop’ on Nato war games designed to send a ‘warning to Vladimir Putin’.

A senior RAF source last night told the Daily Mail: ‘We’ve never had a period like this in living memory.’

An article posted on the RAF’s website on June 18, 2015 provided further details.

The Secretary of State for Defence, the Right Honourable Michael Fallon MP learnt at first-hand what policing the Baltic airspace means during yesterday’s visit to Amari airbase in Estonia.

The day had seen two scrambles (17th), one the previous night (16th) and one this morning (18th) bringing the total to four scrambles in barely over 24 hours from the Royal Air Force Typhoons based at Amari.

Two Quick Reaction Alert Typhoons landed just an hour before the Minister touched down. In just over 24 hours the tally of RAF intercepts has included four MiG-31BM Foxhound fighters, two Tu-22M3 Backfire C bombers, two An-26 Curl surveillance aircraft and an A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft.

The week was expected to be busy, because the multinational summer Baltic exercises always attract overflights.

Typhoons from the 6 Squadron detachment of 121 Expeditionary Air Wing intercept two MiG 31BM Foxhounds on 17 June over the Baltic Sea.© MOD Crown Copyright 2015
Typhoons from the 6 Squadron detachment of 121 Expeditionary Air Wing intercept two MiG 31BM Foxhounds on 17 June over the Baltic Sea.© MOD Crown Copyright 2015

Typhoon pilot, Flt Lt Oli Fleming, speaking of Tuesday night, said : “With a no notice scramble I made a Mach 1.5 transit to identify aircraft that had not filed a flight plan and were not ‘squawking’ (communicating). We got alongside to see a pair of MiG 31s. It’s the first time I’ve seen this type of MiG. They were in international airspace flying into Kaliningrad.”

On Wednesday morning it was the turn of 6 Squadron colleague, Major Ryan Franzen, on exchange from the US Marine Corps who spoke of his first mission of the day: “The Typhoon gets high, gets fast and gets there quick. We made a visual ID of Tu-22s. There was no real reaction. A little wave of the wings. It’s a safe procedure. They know what we’re doing.”

It didn’t end there. Maj Franzen and his wingman were re-tasked twice more on the same mission to intercept two pairs of Foxhounds. He added: “It was exciting – especially scrambling for one task and then having to do two more. This is great for the ground engineers. They make it possible.”

Just three hours later they were scrambled again – this time locating surveillance aircraft – an An-26 and an An-50. His wingman said: “ It’s what we are here to do. It is a lot to see in one day, but this activity is routine for us. When we hear the scramble it’s very automatic – but there’s a big surge of energy and a big adrenaline rush.”

Estonian Minister of Defence Sven Mikser greeted Michael Fallon and referred to the danger posed to commercial aviation by aircraft in the Baltic region without flight plans. He said: “Estonia is grateful for the British contribution to our security. We have had close co-operation and we hope it will continue.”

Wg Cdr Stu Smiley commands the RAF detachment, 121 Expeditionary Air Wing: “We have been here nearly two months and flown about 120 sorties. Twenty-one of these have been scrambles and the rest for training. We have identified just over a dozen aircraft with unidentified or uncertain flight plans. This level of activity is a little higher than normal – but that’s to be expected given the major exercises taking place.” He added: “Being in a position to be able to achieve this mission so effectively is a credit to every single person here. EAWs enable the RAF to deploy rapidly, set-up and execute the required mission. And we do it worldwide where the UK needs us.”