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Thursday, March 23, 2023

RAF and German Fighter Jets Intercept Russian Aircraft in Estonia

In the inaugural joint operation of its kind, Russian aircraft near Estonian airspace were intercepted by RAF and German fighter jets.

On Tuesday, two Typhoons were scrambled to intercept an Il-78 Midas refuelling plane en route from St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad, which had failed to communicate with Estonian air traffic control.

The British and German air forces are currently conducting planned joint NATO air policing in the region. Although the interception itself was routine, it marks the first time the two countries have collaborated on such an operation.

The incident occurred amidst heightened tensions between NATO and Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, but there is no apparent connection to the reported collision between a Russian fighter jet and a US drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday.

Following the escort of the Midas, the two jets were redirected to intercept an An-148 airliner that was also in close proximity to Estonian airspace. The jets are part of the RAF’s 140 Expeditionary Air Wing and the German 71 Tactical Air Wing Richthofen.

In April, the RAF is slated to take over the Baltic air policing mission from the German air force, a long-established NATO initiative.

The British air force will lead the mission for four months, alongside continued joint operations with Germany until the end of April. The mission currently has four RAF Typhoon jets stationed at Estonia’s ├ämari air base.

James Heappey, Minister for the Armed Forces, emphasized the significance of Nato in our collective security, and the UK and German deployment in the Baltics as evidence of our combined strength in deterring potential threats to Nato’s borders.

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