The second scramble today follows a scramble yesterday evening. This launch was initially to intercept two Russian transport aircraft, an Antonov An-12 Cub and an Antonov An-72 Coaler that were flying south from mainland Russia towards the Kaliningrad Oblast. The RAF fighters were then re-tasked to intercept two Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire bombers and two Su-30SM Flanker H fighters that were also flying south from mainland Russia over the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea.
On Thursday evening, RAF Typhoons and Swedish Air Force Gripens were scrambled to intercept a Russian Air Force IL-20 Coot A and a Su-27 Flanker B that were flying close to NATO and Swedish airspace. On both occasions the Russian aircraft were not complying with international norms by failing to communicate with the relevant Flight Information Regions however, they remained in international airspace and flew in a professional manner.
During the latest intercept the Typhoons were joined by F18s of the Finnish Air Force as they escorted the Backfires and the Flanker through the Gulf of Finland, later handing over to Gripens of the Swedish Air Force. Portuguese and Romanian F16s, based out of Siauliai Airbase in Lithuania, were also scrambled to escort the Russian aircraft as they transited further south through the Latvian and Lithuanian FIRs.
NATO is currently conducting naval activity in the Baltic Sea as part of BALTOPs, a series of annual NATO exercises and as expected, Russian aircraft have been monitoring allied vessels throughout. The RAF’s 140 EAW are currently deployed to Amari Airbase in Estonia to undertake NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission.