Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets currently operating from Lithuania have intercepted a Russian military aircraft formation operating over the Baltic Sea.
The Typhoons, from 6 Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth, approached the Russian formation to identify its composition and established it was an Il-38 “May” maritime patrol aircraft, being escorted by two Su-27 “Flanker B” fighter jets.
This was the first time in recent years that the RAF have seen and intercepted a ‘May’ which was operating alongside a Russian Navy Oscar-class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine which the Typhoons photographed on the surface as it transited towards the west across the Baltic Sea.
The Russian formation was then monitored as it flew through the Lithuanian Flight Information Region (FIR) (international airspace), “to ensure the safety of other airspace users as Russian Military aircraft do not file flight plans in accordance with standard international practice”.
This intercept follows an earlier interception at the start of the week when the Typhoons were again airborne to monitor Russian Su-27 Flankers as they transited through Lithuanian controlled international airspace.
These intercepts have come during a busy week for 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, the RAF Unit that is deployed in Lithuania as the UK contribution to the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. The EAW has also been conducting NATO Air Policing interoperability training with a detachment of German Eurofighters that have been embedded into 135 EAW. RAF Personnel also hosted the Lithuanian President when he visited the airbase and were invited to take part in some national Lithuanian events, which they were delighted to accept.
“Our operations this week have demonstrated what the RAF is all about, we had just completed a really productive Typhoon interoperability exercise with the Luftwaffe and shortly thereafter, we scrambled on a live intercept, showing the whole team’s professionalism and flexibility,” said Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, 135 EAW Commanding Officer.
135 EAW is currently operating from Siauliai Air Base Lithuania, alongside a Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornet Detachment and a French Air Force detachment based in Estonia to deliver the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission.