RAF scrambled to intercept Russians
RAF Typhoon fighters were scrambled to intercept "multiple Russian aircraft" as part of the Nato mission to police the airspace over the Baltics, the Ministry of Defence has said.
The aircraft from 3 (Fighter) Squadron were ordered into the skies yesterday after four separate groups of aircraft were detected by Nato air defences in international airspace near to the Baltic states.
The aircraft were subsequently identified as a Russian Tupolev Tu22 Backfire bomber, four Sukhoi Su27 Flanker fighters, one Beriev A50 Mainstay early-warning aircraft and an Antonov An26 Curl transport aircraft.
The MoD said the Russian aircraft, which appeared to be carrying out a "variety of routine training", were monitored by the Typhoons and escorted on their way.
Four Typhoons - which are now stationed at the Siauliai air base in Lithuania - were deployed to the region last month in a show of support by Nato against the backdrop of the crisis in the Ukraine.
Russia's backing for armed separatists in the Ukraine had increased nervousness in the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia which do not have their own air defence fighters and rely upon Nato.
In the past week, Nato aircraft have been scrambled 13 times due to unidentified aircraft operating around the Baltic region.
Yesterday's interception was the sixth to have been carried carried out by the British aircraft since their arrival from their home base in at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, in support of the Polish-led Nato detachment in Lithuania.
The Typhoon detachment commander, Wing Commander Ian Townsend said: "We regularly intercept Russian and civilian aircraft from UK Quick Reaction Alert and so this type of mission is core business for us and exactly what we were sent to the Baltic region by Nato to do.
"It was a thoroughly successful operation with both my ground crew and aircrew performing to the exacting professional high standards I have come to expect."