Britain scrambled fighters twice to intercept Russian…

Britain scrambled Typhoon fighters twice in two days in the Baltic to intercept Russian aircraft, the defence ministry said.

British Typhoons were launched on Wednesday to intercept two SU-27 fighters and an IL-22 and escorted the formation towards Russia.

On Tuesday, British Typhoon fighters scrambled out of Ämari Air Base in Estonia in response to two Russian SU-27 fighter aircraft and one IL-22 aircraft that were flying along the Baltic coast heading towards Kaliningrad.

Britain took over the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from the German Air Force last month.

Mark Lancaster, minister for the armed forces, said: ‘Together it sends a clear message – we are committed to defending NATO’s borders and will support our allies in deterring any threats.  

A Russian Ilyushin Il-22 Bizon and a SU-27 Flanker aircraft, flying along the Baltic coast on Tuesday

A Russian Ilyushin Il-22 Bizon and a SU-27 Flanker aircraft, flying along the Baltic coast on Tuesday

A Russian Ilyushin Il-22 Bizon and a SU-27 Flanker aircraft, flying along the Baltic coast on Tuesday

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‘At the same time as our troops forge stronger ties with NATO Allies in Estonia, our RAF Typhoons are policing Baltic skies and providing a rapid response to any approaches towards NATO airspace.’

Wing Commander Paul ‘Pablo’ O’Grady, who was conducting a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty when the first scramble was called, said the Russian jets were ‘safety’ escorted around Estonian airspace.

He said: ‘On 14 May my flight of QRA Typhoons were scrambled on a Baltic Air Policing Mission tasked to intercept and identify an unknown aircraft. 

‘Six minutes after take-off from Ämari Air Base, vectored by Estonian fighter controllers, we closed quickly on a Russian IL-22 which was being escorted by two Russian SU-27 fighters. 

‘Flying alongside the Russian aircraft at a safe distance, myself and my wingman [a United States Airforce Lt Col], ensured that the Russian aircraft were safely escorted around Estonian airspace. 

‘The Russian pilots and crews behaved in a professional and calm manner with nothing untoward. 

‘We subsequently handed the Russian formation over to the Hungarian QRA that had launched out of Lithuania to continue the escort towards Kaliningrad. 

‘This was the first Baltic Air Policing Mission of the Typhoon Detachment providing assurance of our capability and demonstrating the UK’s commitment to our NATO Allies.’

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