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NATO Fighter Jets Meet More and More Russians Over the Baltic States

AMARI AIR BASE, Estonia – The British Royal Air Force sees an increase in Russia’s air activity as the service conducts NATO air policing mission in the Baltic this summer, Business Insider reported Saturday.
However, pilots on the ground in Estonia stated that the intercepted conversations remained safe and professional.
Four Eurofighter Typhoons from 11th RAF Squadron arrived at Amari Air Base on April 24 for the four-month NATO mission.
Since then, the pace of operations has been fast, said Chief Marshal Stephen Hillier, RAF Chief of Staff.
“If you have any doubts about the level of activity we are facing, note that since our arrival in Estonia … our typhoons have already been beaten 13 times in reaction to Russian activities on the Baltic Sea – much more often than of our last deployment in 2016,” he said on July 17 at the Air and Space Power Conference in London.
The latest RAF jamming took place on June 29, when two typhoons were launched to intercept two Su-27 fighters and an Il-22 “Coot”, nickname given to a Russian transport aircraft configured as an air command post or means of recognition.
“The event went off without incident,” said Squadron Leader Darren Scales, media officer for the 121st Expeditionary Air Wing, responsible for the law enforcement mission in Estonia.
The last intercepted conversation follows the events of June 14 and 15, when the Typhoons rushed to intercept a Russian Su-30 fighter, then a Su-30 with an Il-76 transport aircraft.
“We’re doing about three a week on average, which is what we expected,” Wing Commander David Boreham, commander of the 121st, told Defense News at the Amari Air Show.
As the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have small air forces, NATO deploys fighter jets in the region to provide aerial surveillance of their respective airspace.
The Typhoons leading the Baltic Air Police mission are on “early warning” or “QRA”, which requires increased readiness so that planes can struggle “within minutes” of notification of a air operations center, said Boreham.
“Then we will be guided, we will be told to go to this location where the aircraft are, then there will be a procedure to get on the side of an aircraft,” he said. “We intercept this aircraft in a professional and safe manner, so that all parties understand it, and then we will stay in a safe and comfortable position until the plane leaves the area. no aggression, it’s very professional on both sides.”
Throughout the meeting, the Typhoons keep in touch with the Estonian air traffic control facilities at Amari Air Base, where Estonian personnel control the aircraft and transmit information to the air operations center.
RAF Typhoons alternate Baltic air policing missions with Spanish F / A-18 and Hungarian Gripen fighters based at Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania. But for a “week”, the drivers remain on QRA, even if they have other commitments, like the 121st this weekend when he participated in the Amari air show, said Boreham.
Speaking to reporters on July 17, General Dave Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, acknowledged the increase in Russian activities near the Baltic States, while noting that all parties continued to respect the basic rules of air engagement.
“What we have to do not let things happen is that this professionalism is starting to deteriorate in some way,” he said.
“The good news is that we have been doing this for the Russian Air Force for more than 50 years and I want to ensure that we can continue to do this for the next 50 years because we are held to high standards. As two professional air forces, and I would say the same thing about the Chinese Air Force. ”
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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