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Swedish Gripens intercept first Russian aircraft since joining NATO

A Swedish Gripen and a German Eurofighter seen trailing a Russia Tu-134 during what was one of two maiden interceptions by SwAF combat aircraft since Sweden joined NATO the day before. (NATO)

Swedish Air Force (SwAF) Saab Gripen combat aircraft have intercepted Russian aircraft for the first time since the country joined NATO. NATO Allied Air Command announced that the milestone took place on 11 March, the day after Sweden officially joined the alliance on 10 March.

According to the alliance, SwAF Gripen C fighters operating alongside Belgian Air Component (BAC) Lockheed Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcons and Luftwaffe Eurofighters had intercepted a Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) Antonov An-26 ‘Cash' transport aircraft and Tupolev Tu-134 ‘Crusty' military airliner over the Baltic region.

“Swedish Gripen fighter[s] prove they're already integrated [in NATO], with their intercept today of a Russian An-26 and Tu-134 together with Belgian air force F-16[s] and German Air Force Eurofighters currently on [the NATO] air policing mission in the Baltics,” NATO Allied Air Command said, adding, “Across NATO the Swedish flag has been raised in honour of being the 32nd member of the alliance.”

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