RAF

RAF Typhoons In Lithuania Scramble To Intercept Russian Military Aircraft

The jets, deployed on a NATO policing mission, were called to intercept a Russian intelligence aircraft off the Baltic coast.

Royal Air Force Typhoons have intercepted a Russian military aircraft for the first time since deploying to Lithuania on a NATO policing mission.

The RAF scrambled to intercept a Russian IL-20 COOT Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft over the Baltic Sea, as part of their role on Operation Azotize.

A pilot from 6 Squadron, attached to 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, was on Quick Reaction Alert duty as the scramble was called.

"The scramble was called to intercept a Russian IL-20 COOT ISR aircraft," they said.

"The initial scramble was a real shot of adrenaline, but once airborne it was important to remain calm and professional and make the intercept as expeditious as possible to ensure we maintained both the safety and integrity of NATO airspace.

"This is what all of our training is designed to prepare us for however, at the end of the day it’s just my job."

WATCH: Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, 135 EAW Commander says "it's important that we maintain the integrity of NATO airspace".

British aircraft, from 6 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth, are working alongside Spanish Air Force F-18s at Šiauliai Air Base in northern Lithuania, having flown from Scotland earlier this year.

It will see RAF jets and personnel help protect NATO airspace in the region.

Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, 135 EAW Commander said: "It is great to see all of the training come together in a timely response and a successful NATO Baltic Quick Reaction Alert Air Policing mission."

He added: "It's important to remember that this is a NATO mission. We play our part alongside the Spanish and the French. This is our first time but the Spanish and French have both been scrambled previously.

"It is very much business as usual, the COVID restrictions have changed the way we do things slightly. There are more procedures to follow, but just like COVID situations change things for everyone around the world, we're just working through that and providing the same services that we normally provide."

The Baltic Air Policing mission will last over the summer, with 150 RAF personnel being deployed.

Cover image: RAF.