Eurofighter Typhoons from the RAF’s IX (B) Squadron and the German Air Force’s 71 ‘Richtofen’ Wing were scrambled to intercept and visually identify several unidentified aircraft flying close to NATO airspace. The two forces are currently working side-by-side as part of Operation Azotize to protect the eastern flank of NATO’s border.
One of the aircraft was identified to be a Russian Air Force IL-20 Coot-A intelligence aircraft transiting from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad enclave. It was met by two Russian SU-27 Flanker-B fighter jets based in Kaliningrad which escorted the Coot-A south through the north-west area of the Estonian flight information region.
The Coot-A is a signals intelligence variant of the IL-20 aircraft and was flying in a safe and professional manner. The RAF and German Typhoons escorted the Coot-A and Flanker-Bs through the Estonian flight information region before handing over to Saab Gripen fighters of the Swedish Air Force.
The Royal Air Force and German Air Force are operating Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets out of Amari Air Base in Estonia as a combined force and this is the fifth joint intercept that the nations have conducted. Together, they are fulfilling NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission – Operation Azotize – and have been doing so as a combined force since the start of March.