BUZZ OFF RAF Typhoon fighters scrambled to intercept Russian planes approaching Estonia as sabre-rattling Putin tests Nato alliance
RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian war planes menacing Estonian airspace, defence officials confirmed today.
The Typhoons were launched to see off one plane “flying close” to the Baltic nation’s border – then ten minutes later had to intercept a second on the same flight path.
An RAF Tycoon with one of the Russian Antonov AN-26 transport aircraft over the Baltic coastCredit: EPA
Monday’s operation was the sixth time since May RAF planes based in Estonia have been launched to intercept Russian military aircraft.
The lead pilot from XI Fighter Squadron – who the RAF refused to name for security reasons – said: “We were scrambled to intercept an Antonov AN-24 Russian military transport aircraft, NATO Callsign ‘Coke’, that was flying in international airspace close to Estonia from the south.
“Approximately ten minutes later we were re-tasked to intercept an additional Antonov AN-26 transport aircraft which was following the same routing as the first.
“Both intercepts were routine and carried out in a safe and professional manner.”
Currently RAF jets are based at Amari Air Base in Estonia on a NATO Baltic Air Policing mission.
NATO member Estonia does not have fighter jets so other NATO members take turns providing them in an air policing role. The RAF took over from the German Air Force on 3 May.
Russian planes regularly fly close to Estonian airspace to test responses and intimidate the tiny state.
Earlier today, it was revealed Russia intercepted US and Swedish reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea on Monday.
It’s the latest in a series of similar encounters during heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow following constant ‘sabre rattling’ from the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin.
The Russian government statement said one of its Su-27 fighters approached the jets “at a safe distance and identified them as a US Air Force RC-135 spy plane and a Swedish Air Force Gulfstream reconnaissance aircraft.”
The RC-135 is a reconnaissance aircraft used primarily for intelligence collection purposes.
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“The Su-27 pilot reported on the identification of foreign reconnaissance aircraft and accompanied them, preventing violations of the Russian airspace borders in compliance with all necessary security measures,” the Russian statement said.
A US military official confirmed the encounter, but said it was safe and professional.
“A RC-135 was flying a routine mission in international airspace over the Baltic sea. It was intercepted by a Russian Federation SU-27 aircraft. The intercept was deemed safe,” another US official told CNN.
RAF jets are based at Amari Air Base in Estonia on a NATO Baltic Air Policing missionCredit: EPA
The Typhoons launched on Monday to see off this plane ‘flying close’ to the Estonian borderCredit: UK MOD � Crown 2019 This image may be used for current news purposes only. It may not be u