Royal Air Force Typhoon jets on Friday intercepted a Russian spy plane and a pair of fighter jets about to enter NATO airspace over the Baltic Sea.
The RAF Eurofighter Typhoons worked with the German air force to buzz their Russian enemies hovering over the Gulf of Finland and approaching Estonia.
One of the planes turned out to be a Russian Air Force IL-20 Coot-A intelligence aircraft on its way to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland. It was escorted by Su-27 Flanker-B fighter jets.
These intelligence aircraft are designed to pick up enemy communications and signals for analysis.
Meanwhile, stunning footage shared on social media by the Allied air forces showed one of Russia’s Su-27 jets soaring through the sky just meters from an RAF aircraft.
A Russian Su-27 flies off the wing of an RAF aircraft
Typhoon fighter jets from the Royal Air Force and the German Air Force have carried out a joint mission to intercept three Russian aircraft flying over the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea
One of the Russian aircraft (L) was identified as an IL-20 Coot-A intelligence aircraft of the Russian Air Force en route to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland
The Russian jets were intercepted over the Gulf of Finland just north of Estonia
“We often see Russian military aircraft flying over the Baltic Sea and so this was a routine interception for us,” said a statement from the RAF.
“Nevertheless, the importance of intercepting these aircraft and our commitment to the collective defense of NATO airspace remains steadfast and resolute.
“What this interception has proven is that we, together with our German allies, are capable of acting swiftly and decisively to effectively ensure the security of the Alliance.”
The RAF and German Typhoons escorted the Coot-A and Flanker-Bs through the Estonian flight information area before handing them over to Swedish Air Force Saab Gripen fighters.
The allies are currently working together on Operation Azotize – a NATO air policing initiative designed to ensure the security of member states in Eastern Europe near Ukraine.
The RAF and the German Air Force fly their Eurofighter Typhoon jets from Amari Air Base in Estonia.
Friday’s interception is the fifth time German and British aircraft have come into contact with Russian aircraft near NAO airspace in just six weeks.
“This was another demonstration of our willingness and commitment to respond quickly to conduct a live interception. These combined RAF and German Air Force intercepts continue to strengthen NATO cohesion and ensure seamless cooperation and understanding during these missions,” the RAF concluded.
The latest interception of Russian planes came just days after leaked Pentagon documents claimed one of Moscow’s fighter jets nearly shot down an RAF spy plane over the Black Sea last year – an incident Britain had in the war in Ukraine. can drag.
On September 29, an RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft was flying through international airspace close to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula when it was buzzed by a squadron of Moscow’s Su-27 fighters.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged the incident at the time, telling parliament that the Russian jets “recklessly” came within 15 feet of the RAF aircraft and that one “fired a missile nearby.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu blamed a technical glitch and Wallace, who had spoken to other Russian defense officials, accepted the explanation and drew a line under the incident.
But leaked US military documents have now revealed that the missile launch came agonizingly close to hitting the RAF aircraft in an incident described as ‘a near downing of UK RJ (Rivet Joint)’.
A Russian Su-27 fighter jet shadowing an RAF RC-135 spy plane over the Black Sea in September came close to shooting down the British plane
Two Russian Su-27 fighter jets were following the British plane when one suffered a ‘technical malfunction’ and fired a missile, Ben Wallace said (file image)
An RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint spy plane was flying over international waters near Crimea at the time of the September incident
A British defense source, meanwhile, disputed this version of events, telling MailOnline: “These reports contain inaccuracies and do not reflect what happened in international airspace over the Black Sea,” referring to Defense Secretary Wallace’s comments in October in the parliament.
If a Russian missile had blown Rivet Joint out of the sky over the Black Sea, the UK and its NATO allies might have been forced into war.
According to Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, member states agree that an armed attack against one or more of them ‘shall be regarded as an attack against all of them’.
If such an attack does occur, any NATO member will assist the country that has been attacked with whatever action it deems necessary.
The RAF regularly conducts intelligence-gathering missions over the international waters of the Black Sea, the Baltic States and eastern Poland.
The role of the Rivet Joint aircraft is to suck up electronic transmissions and communications – the aircraft is also known as a ‘nuke sniffer’ for its ability to detect radioactivity.
British and US aircraft continued to carry out these reconnaissance flights after the chilling incident in September, but RAF surveillance aircraft are now escorted by Typhoon fighters as the US resorts to using unmanned surveillance drones.
Pentagon spokesman Brig. General Patrick Ryder said last month that it is important to keep the Black Sea and the airspace above it open to all nations.
“The Black Sea is a critical international seaway that supports many of our NATO allies, including Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, and does not belong to one country,” he said.
Ryder’s comments came after yet another aerial incident in which Russian jets dumped fuel on a US surveillance drone last month and eventually crashed.
Video footage shows the Russian fighter jet approaching the US drone from behind and beginning to release fuel as it passes – according to the Pentagon
After the impact, the on-board camera shows a broken propeller (L) and a similar working propeller (R) spinning. Russia previously said it has not made contact with the drone
Drone footage showed the shocking moment when Moscow’s Su-27 jet approached the US MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from behind on March 14 and clipped its propeller across international airspace.
US forces had to shoot down the $32 million surveillance drone in international waters after the encounter, sparking a race between Moscow and Washington to get it back.
Russian ships were spotted at the crash site on March 15 trying to find the debris, though the Pentagon insisted the parts could not be recovered and all information had been erased.
Moscow insisted its jet failed to make contact with the drone, instead blaming “sharp maneuvering” for the crash.
But experts say it was likely an accidental collision as Russian pilots used increasingly aggressive tactics to force the drone to change course.