As part of ongoing Air Policing in the region, the pair of NATO jets launched on 17 March to intercept a Russian military Tu-134 passenger jet, known by the NATO name of Crusty, that was being escorted by two Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighter jets, and an AN-12 Cub military transport aircraft. The Russian formations were intercepted flying close to Estonian airspace.
The RAF and German Air Force are conducting Joint NATO Air Policing, a first for two NATO Allies. The interception is a routine NATO mission for the Eurofighter Typhoons and is a reassurance that the UK and Germany together with other NATO allies stand with their Estonian ally at this time of tension.
Wing Commander Richard Leask, the Officer Commanding IX(B) Sqn operating as part of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing said: “We were scrambled to intercept an aircraft that was approaching Estonian airspace. We quickly identified the Russian aircraft and then monitored it as it flew close to NATO airspace.
“The NATO Air Policing mission is carried out to ensure any aircraft of interest are intercepted to ensure we know who they are and maintain flight safety for all airspace users. This is part of being a fighter pilot and is what we and our German colleagues have trained together to be able to do.”
The Royal Air Force is deployed on Operation Azotize in Estonia and will take over leadership from the German detachment in April. Joint missions will continue to be flown till the end of April.
The UK and Germany are operating together as part of NATO to reassure our allies and is a further demonstration of the UK and Germany’s commitment to the security of the region. The German Air Force detachment is from the 71 Tactical Air Wing ‘Richthofen’.