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UK, German Eurofighters intercept first Russian aircraft of joint Baltic Air Policing mission

An RAF and Luftwaffe Eurofighter scramble out of Ämari Air Base in Estonia under the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. (Crown Copyright)

Eurofighter combat aircraft from the UK and Germany intercepted and shadowed the first Russian aircraft of a joint NATO Baltic Air Policing mission on 14 March.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that one Royal Air Force (RAF) and one Luftwaffe Eurofighter operating out of Ämari Air Base in Estonia conducted the intercept of a Russian Aerospace Forces (VKA) Ilyushin Il-78 ‘Midas' tanker.

Having intercepted the Il-78 as it flew close to Estonian airspace, the pair of Eurofighters were then tasked to intercept a VKS Antonov An-148 transport aircraft.

News of the intercept came three weeks after the MoD announced the joint air policing mission on 24 February. RAF aircraft from No 9 Squadron and Luftwaffe aircraft from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader (Tactical Fighter Wing, TLG) 71 ‘Richthofen' are flying joint sorties through March under German command, before the command is transferred to the UK through to the end of April.

The Luftwaffe embedding a detachment within an RAF Eurofighter Baltic Air Policing mission is the reverse of an arrangement that was first rolled out in October 2020. At that time, RAF Eurofighters from No 3 Squadron joined a German-led Baltic Air Policing mission that also involved the TLG 71. Exercise ‘Hanseatic Guardian', as the UK detachment was called, involved two RAF Eurofighters performing joint QRA scrambles with their Luftwaffe counterparts over the period of a week.

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