Belgian F-16s were dispatched to intercept Russian Su-24s, Su-27s and Su-30s maneuvering over US destroyer in the Baltics. NATO Multimedia portal reports citing the Belgian air force.
Belgian jets assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission intercepted Russian fighters as they conducted low passes over a US Navy destroyer on 17 April 2020.
According to NATO, the Belgian F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighters launched from Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania, where the air policing mission is headquartered. They then intercepted the Russian aircraft – two Su-24 Fencer attack jets, one Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter and one Su-30 Flanker-C multirole fighter – over the USS Donald Cook, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer manoeuvring in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Lithuania. The F-16s conducted the intercept in a safe and professional manner.
Air policing is a peacetime activity conducted 365 days a year over Alliance territory. Intercepts can be triggered when air traffic – civilian or military – does not respond to hails from air traffic controllers.
NATO regularly intercepts Russian planes that do not maintain radio contact on their flights between the exclave of Kaliningrad, wedged between Poland and Lithuania, and the Russian mainland.
Since Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014, there have been a string of incidents involving unsafe intercepts involving Russian and NATO jets over the Baltic Sea.
Earlier we reported that the U.S. Air Force intercepted Russian maritime reconnaissance airplanes that were on their way to Alaska.