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Belgian F-16 intercepts Russian An-12 airlifter above Baltics

Both Allied detachments in the Baltics conducted their first alert scramble yesterday performing visual identification of Russian Federation aircraft that flew in international airspace close to NATO territory and were not on a flight plan, the Allied Air Command said on September 6, 2018.

Belgian F 16 intercepts Russian An 12 airlifter above Baltics 001 A Belgian F-16AM fighter jet approaching a Russian Federation An-12 transport aircraft during the first intercept of the Belgian Baltic Air Policing detachment
(Credit: Belgian Air Force)

Around noon on September 5, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany ordered the German Eurofighters at Ämari, Estonia, to take off to successively check on two Russian Federation aircraft. The IL-76 and An-26 military transport aircraft were flying in international airspace from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia. After successful identification the NATO fighters safely returned to Ämari Air Base.

Later the day, the Combined Air Operations Centre detected another track and ordered two Belgian F-16 fighter jets to launch and identify the Russian Federation An-12 transport aircraft flying from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad enclave. This mission was also accomplished safely and the jets returned to the Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, in the early afternoon.

The Belgian and German fighters are conducing NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission safeguarding the skies over the Baltics and adjacent international airspace. The Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem and the Baltic Control and Reporting Centre at Karmelava, Lithuania, have 24/7 awareness of activities in the airspace. Presently, the Belgian F-16s and the German Eurofighters provide the quick reaction alert interceptors that will be launched within minutes to respond predictably and professionally to any unclear aerial situation.

(Source: Allied Air Command Public Affairs  Office)