Fighters from different NATO countries have intercepted ten Russian aircraft at six different points near their airspace, in an episode that the military organization itself has described as “unusual”.
The incident took place this Monday in different areas of the Atlantic Alliance space such as the North Atlantic, the North Sea, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea in a period of only six hours. In all these scenarios NATO fighters acted, escorting Russian aircraft out of Alliance space, NATO said in a statement.
“Being able to intercept multiple groups of Russian aircraft demonstrates NATO’s strength, readiness and resources to watch the allied skies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” said Gen. Andrew Hansen, deputy chief of operations at Allied Air Command Ramstein in Germany.
ACTION BY SEVERAL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
First, Norwegian fighters intercepted two Russian military aircraft near the Norwegian coast. These aircraft flew southward, prompting the subsequent intervention of Belgian and British fighters to ensure that they left Allied airspace. Shortly thereafter, the same Norwegian forces located two more Russian bombers over international waters forcing them to take action again.
In the Black Sea, radars detected three other Russian aircraft near Allied airspace. In this case, Romanian, Turkish and Bulgarian fighters intervened to ensure that they left the area.
In another episode on the same day, an Italian fighter intercepted a Russian maritime patrol aircraft over the Baltic which was escorted to ensure that it was merely flying over Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave in the area.
A key role in such incidents is played by the operations center at Torrejón, where the radars of the NATO operations center are located. This enabled Norway, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey to act, which in Hansen’s eyes shows that the NATO patrol operation is a “truly collective effort”.