Russian aircraft were identified by the German crews, including by visual contact, without an order from NATO to shoot them down.
Up to 70 Russian drones of the type Shahed 136 were registered during the wave of attacks on targets in Ukraine, one of which, according to preliminary findings, also exploded over Romanian airspace.
The Shahed drones are made by an Iranian aerospace company Shahed Aviation Industries, which the US Treasury Department says is subordinate to the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The attack was noticed from 2042 GMT and was tracked by a multinational NATO Combined Air Operations Centre, which said the order to launch an “alpha scramble” was given at 2102 GMT and the armed fighter aircraft were in the air at 2111 GMT. The incident is considered significant.
According to the Ukrainian Air Force, 41 of 42 Russian combat drones were shot down during the night, most of them over the Odessa region bordering Romania.
On Thursday, the Romanian Ministry of Defence reported a bomb crater 1.5 metres deep in the Danube delta near the Romanian village of Grindu, 6.5 kilometres from the Ukrainian border. The possibility that it was a Russian drone was described as “possible.”
The German Air Force, or Luftwaffe, is currently involved in securing NATO’s south-eastern flank with four fighter jets and armed protection flights from Romania’s Mihail Kogălniceanu military airfield near Constanța.
There have been several incidents on the Romanian side of the border with Ukraine in which airspace was violated. They were all linked to Russian attacks on Ukrainian harbours on the Danube. So far, however, an analysis described as very precise has shown that these cases were not intentional on the part of Russia.