The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) two F-35 fighter aircraft have intercepted three Russian aircraft in Polish airspace.

Information about this incident was shared by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 13 February.

The Dutch fighter jets have been deployed as part of the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) force in Poland. It was the first interception carried out by the F-35 Lightning II jets during this deployment.

An unidentified aircraft was spotted in Polish airspace, immediately after which two Dutch fighter planes took off to identify and guide the aircraft formation.

The MoD said that the spotted unknown aircraft were approaching the Polish Nato area of responsibility from Kaliningrad, which is a Russian exclave in the Baltic Sea.

According to the Netherlands MoD statement, the identified aircraft included two Russian SU-27 Flanker fighter jets and one Ilyushin Il-20M Coot-A reconnaissance aircraft.

Soon after the identification of the aircraft, the F-35s ‘remotely escorted the formation’ and then handed over the guidance to the Nato partners.

Nato Allied Air Command tweeted: “NLF-35s carried out their first A-Scramble to intercept Russian SU-27s & an IL-20 flying close to #NATO airspace. Supported by DE Eurofighters they shadowed RU aircraft who were posing a danger to other air users by ignoring international air safety rules.”

The RNLAF has deployed its eight F-35 multi-role combat aircraft in Poland for February and March.

Of the total deployed aircraft, four jets operate out of Malbork Air Base, Poland, to carry out surveillance duties over the Eastern Europe region to safeguard Nato airspace. 

Meanwhile, two aircraft under the QRA force are permanently available to take off within minutes to intercept any unidentified aircraft tracked in the allied airspace, if required.