RAF Typhoons in the Baltic have experienced their busiest day on record, conducting 4 intercepts of approaching Russian military aircraft in just 24 hours.

Multi-national training exercises always attract overflights but this summer has so far been exceptional.

But what's it like for the pilots sent to see off four MiG-31BM Foxhound fighters, two Tu-22M3 Backfire C bombers, two An-26 Curl surveillance aircraft and an A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning aircraft?

First up from among the crews based at the Amari Airbase in Estonia was Typhoon pilot Flt Lt Oli Fleming.. “With a no notice scramble I made a Mach 1.5 transit to identify aircraft that had not filed a flight plan and were not ‘squawking’ (communicating).

We got alongside to see a pair of MiG 31s. It’s the first time I’ve seen this type of MiG. They were in international airspace flying into Kaliningrad.”

Major Ryan Franzen, on exchange from the US Marine Corps was next to scramble: “The Typhoon gets high, gets fast and gets there quick. We made a visual ID of Tu-22s. There was no real reaction. A little wave of the wings. It’s a safe procedure. They know what we’re doing.”
But it didn’t end there. Maj Franzen and his wingman were re-tasked twice more on the same mission to intercept two pairs of Foxhounds. He added: “It was exciting - especially scrambling for one task and then having to do two more. This is great for the ground engineers. They make it possible.”
Back on the ground for just three hours the pair were off again, this time locating surveillance aircraft, an An-26 and an An-50. His wingman said: “ It’s what we are here to do. It is a lot to see in one day, but this activity is routine for us. When we hear the scramble it’s very automatic – but there’s a big surge of energy and a big adrenaline rush.”
Wg Cdr Stu Smiley commands the RAF detachment, 121 Expeditionary Air Wing: “We have been here nearly two months and flown about 120 sorties. Twenty-one of these have been scrambles and the rest for training. We have identified just over a dozen aircraft with unidentified or uncertain flight plans. This level of activity is a little higher than normal – but that’s to be expected given the major exercises taking place.”
He added: “Being in a position to be able to achieve this mission so effectively is a credit to every single person here. EAWs enable the RAF to deploy rapidly, set-up and execute the required mission. And we do it worldwide where the UK needs us.”