“The jets were scrambled practically during the changeover ceremony,” Captain Donatas Suchockis, public relations officer at the Lithuanian army‘s Joint Staff, told BNS.
The two Su-27 fighter jets were flying from the Russian region of Kaliningrad, wedged between Lithuania and Poland, to mainland Russia without a pre-filled plan, without maintaining communication with the control center and with their onboard transponders switched off, Suchockis said.
Latvia ‘s army tweeted later on Monday that air policing jets also identified two Russian Tu-22M bombers flying over the Baltic Sea.
According to Suchodskis, NARO jets were scrambled from Šiauliai for a second time on Monday to accompany a Russian An“26 flying from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia under a pre-filled plan, maintain radio communication but its transponder was switched off.
According to the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense, NATO fighter jets were scrambled twice from August 24 to 30 to identify aircraft of the Russian Federation flying in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea.
On August 24, NATO fighters identified and intercepted one Il-76 military transport aircraft which was flying without a pre-filed flight plan, was neither using its onboard transponder and nor maintaining radio communication with traffic control centers.
On August 29, NATO fighter jets scrambled to intercept two Su-27 fighters flying without having pre-filed flight plans, and without using their onboard transponders and maintaining radio communication, and also one An-26 tactical transport aircraft which had a pre-filed flight plan, had its onboard transponder switched off and maintained radio communication with air traffic control centers.
A Hungarian air contingent with four JAS-39 Gripen jets will take over responsibility for the Baltic air policing mission as of September. Another four mission jets will be stationed in Estonia.