The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has scrambled Typhoon jets out of Ämari Air Base in Estonia to intercept Russian aircraft that were flying along the Baltic coast.
The move represents the first time Typhoons deployed in Estonia were scrambled since taking over the Nato Baltic Air Policing mission in Estonia from the German Air Force last month.
According to a UK Ministry of Defence release, the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) scramble was launched in response to two Russian SU-27 Flanker fighter aircraft and one IL-22 aircraft that were heading towards Kaliningrad.
The scrambles were performed twice on two successive days.
British Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said: “At the same time as our troops forge stronger ties with Nato Allies in Estonia, our RAF Typhoons are policing Baltic skies and providing a rapid response to any approaches towards Nato airspace.
“Together it sends a clear message; we are committed to defending Nato’s borders and will support our allies in deterring any threats.”
The operation represents a routine Nato mission for the RAF Typhoons to deter Russian aggression and provide reassurance to Nato allies.
Wing commander Paul ‘Pablo’ O’Grady said: “On 14 May 2019 my flight of QRA Typhoons were scrambled on a Baltic Air Policing Mission tasked to intercept and identify an unknown aircraft.
“Six minutes after take-off from Ämari Air Base, vectored by Estonian fighter controllers, we closed quickly on a Russian IL-22, which was being escorted by two Russian SU-27 fighters.”
The RAF jets escorted the Russian aircraft around Estonian airspace in ‘a safe and professional manner’.
The British Typhoon squadrons deployed in Estonia will be ready to launch QRA scrambles at all times if required to protect Nato airspace.
In March, RAF Typhoon fighter aircraft intercepted two Russian Blackjacks sighted over the North Sea.