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French scramble for visual identification of Russian aircraft off Estonian coast

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on information provided by the French Air and Space Force

In the morning of February 21, 2024, two French Mirage 2000-5 took off from Šiauliai Air Base under NATO orders to conduct a visual identification of a Russian Il-78 that was flying over international waters off Estonia's Baltic Sea coast.

 

NATO air controllers observed the track of the Russian four-engine air-to-air refueling aircraft flying out of the Kaliningrad exclave with a northerly heading and ordered the French Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to launch and conduct the identification to establish facts of the flight.

The French fighter pilots approached the Russian aircraft under standard procedures, conducted a routine identification and escorted it before returning to the NATO Air Policing base at Šiauliai.

 

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NATO and the Allies collectively protect the airspace above all member Nations. Alert scrambles and intercepts like this one are regularly conducted under Baltic Air Policing and demonstrate permanent situational awareness and readiness to deter and if necessary defend every inch of NATO territory.

At Šiauliai, French fighter pilots together with their Belgian colleagues currently ensure Baltic Air Policing over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Allied detachments have seamlessly executed the enduring defensive mission for the last 20 years underscoring NATO cohesion and solidarity.

 

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