Two Belgian F-16s intercepted Russian fighter planes over the Baltic Sea on Wednesday. The Russian aircraft were not in contact with civil air traffic control, NATO air command said.
“NATO radars had picked up unknown aircraft taking off in Kaliningrad. Two F-16s from the Belgian Air Force took off from Šiauliai in Lithuania for research,” NATO’s Allied Air Command said. “They tracked and identified two Russian Su-30 fighter jets that were not in contact with civilian air traffic control.”
According to the air command, the interception, which was coordinated with the Swedish air force, was carried out in a professional manner. The Belgian fighter planes returned to the base in Lithuania afterwards.
Later that same day, French Mirage 2000-5 aircraft also prepared to take off, as other Russian aircraft had taken off from Kaliningrad. “Due to the tactical development of the situation, the Mirages did not take off,” it said.
This was the first mission for the Belgian F-16s since the aircraft were deployed again in Lithuania for the NATO mission to defend the airspace of the Baltic states. From December 1 to April 1, 2024, four F-16s and a division of 70 people were deployed at the Šiaulai air base.
The devices must provide QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) capability. This means that the fighter planes are ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take off and intercept aircraft that approach NATO airspace without permission.
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