Two Romanian F-16 fighters stationed at the base in Šiauliai in Lithuania intercepted two Russian warplanes on Friday over the Baltic Sea near NATO territory, the North Atlantic Alliance Air Force Command said. It was the first intervention of the Romanian F-16 pilots, who have been operating as part of the Baltic Air Policing mission since the beginning of April.
In Saturday’s communiqué of the Air Force Command FOR THIS Romanian F-16s responded to “a formation of two unidentified aircraft flying over international waters in NATO’s zone of responsibility,” it said. “The aircraft did not identify themselves and did not contact civilian air traffic control agencies,” it added.
In accordance with NATO standards, fighters stationed at the base in Šiauliai were scrambled Lithuania. Romanian pilots identified the machines as Russian Su-27s. “After a professional interception and identification maneuver, the NATO jets safely escorted the Russian fighters and returned to the base in Šiauliai,” the statement said.
The photos show that the Russian fighters belonged to the naval aviation.
The first such mission of the Romanian F-16s
Pilots from Romania and Portugal have been on duty as part of the 62nd rotation of the Baltic Air Policing mission since April 1 this year. The NATO command stressed that for the Romanians it was the first intervention during this operation. On March 30, pilots from Poland and Poland ended their mission France.
Pilots from Romania returned to Baltic Air Policing after a 16-year break. In 2007, Romanian MiG-21 fighters, upgraded to the LanceR version, were still on duty in Šiauliai. But then Bucharest acquired used F-16s – first from Portugaland then also from Norway. For the Romanian F-16s, it was the first meeting in history with Russian fighters over the waters of the Baltic Sea.
On April 2, Portuguese F-16 fighter jets took off from Šiauliai to identify and escort a Russian Il-76 transport plane. A NATO statement said the Russian plane was flying from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad over international waters off the coast of Estonia.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense in a communiqué of April 3, summarizing the week from March 26 to April 2, stated that fighter jets were scrambled to Russian planes three times during this period.
Baltic Air Policing mission
Baltic Air Policing is a mission consisting in patrolling the airspace of the Baltic States, carried out on a rotational basis by the members of the North Atlantic Alliance since 2004, i.e. since the accession of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to NATO, because these countries do not have their own fighters.
Main photo source: Twitter.com/NATO_AIRCOM