NATO Fighter Jets Scrambled 10 Times To Intercept Russian Warplanes

NATO said there was "an unusual peak of flights", with Royal Air Force jets among those scrambled.

NATO fighter jets were scrambled 10 times on Monday to intercept six different groups of Russian military aircraft near NATO airspace in less than six hours.

Alliance aircraft shadowed the Russian bombers and fighters during what NATO described as "an unusual peak of flights" over the North Atlantic, North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea.

In the High North, Norwegian F-16s were scrambled after radars spotted two groups of Russian military aircraft flying near Norway's coast.

The Norwegian jets intercepted two Tu-95 Bear bombers, which continued to fly over the North Sea.

This prompted the UK and Belgium to scramble aircraft – with RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoons launched from RAF Lossiemouth, near Moray, in Scotland.

They were supported by Vespina, the VIP Voyager, which was deployed from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, to provide air-to-air refuelling on the mission.

The RAF said it tracked two TU-142 'BEAR-F' aircraft across the North Sea.

WATCH: Lord Ricketts speaks to the BFBS Sitrep podcast.

Later in the day, the Norwegian F-16s intercepted two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers over international waters.

NATO radars also detected three Russian military aircraft near allied airspace over the Black Sea.

Turkish, Romanian and Bulgarian fighter aircraft took to the skies to track the Russian aircraft until they left the area.

Separately, Italian fighter aircraft intercepted a Russian II 38 maritime patrol aircraft, which was escorted by fighter jets over the Baltic Sea flying into and out of Kaliningrad.

Former National Security Adviser Lord Ricketts told Forces News and the BFBS Sitrep podcast that Russia's behaviour demonstrates an insecurity during "economic weakness" and the UK's Integrated Review was "right to put the emphasis on European security".

He said Russian gestures may be intended to draw attention to the country's military while it faces up to COVID-19 and a "tough line" being taken in the US under the Biden administration.

Lord Ricketts added that “it's a kind of plea for attention” and Russia sees the West "as their adversary".

NATO said the Russian aircraft intercepted on Monday never entered alliance airspace and that the interceptions were conducted in a safe and routine manner.

Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at Allied Air Command, Ramstein, Germany, said NATO's air policing mission is a "truly collective effort".

"Intercepting multiple groups of Russian aircraft demonstrates NATO forces' readiness and capability to guard allied skies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year," he said.

Cover image: NATO aircraft shadowing Russian jets (Picture: NATO).