The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has sent Typhoon fighter aircraft to intercept a Russian IL-76 military transport aircraft near Estonian airspace.

The Typhoon jets took off from the Ämari Air Base in Estonia where they are deployed on Operation AZOTIZE in support of Nato Baltic Air Policing.

AZOTIZE involves providing quick reaction alert (QRA) at all times to protect the Baltic airspace.

UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “As this latest Quick Reaction Alert demonstrates, the RAF is frequently called upon to use their world-class skills and capabilities to help police and protect the skies over the Baltics.

“Our personnel deployed to Estonia and around the world are always ready to react to any scenario as we continue our commitment to our Nato allies.”

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By GlobalData

The aircraft were scrambled when a Typhoon pilot from XI (Fighter) Squadron, attached to 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), was on QRA duties.

The pilot said: “We were scrambled to intercept an aircraft that was approaching Estonian airspace from the south. We identified and monitored it as it transited close to Nato airspace. This is standard protocol for aircraft that might not be communicating with air traffic control or on a recognised flight plan.

“We continued to escort the transport aircraft as it transited in a north direction, away from Estonian airspace.”

The RAF assumed control of the Nato Air Policing mission in the Baltic region in May this year from the German Air Force.

Since taking over, the RAF has conducted 14 QRA scramble and intercept operations to reassure its Nato allies.