VILNIUS - NATO fighter jets serving in the Alliance's air-policing mission in the Baltic countries were scrambled twice last week to intercept Russian military aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Monday.
The NATO fighters on Apr. 18 identified and escorted an An-26 aircraft of the Russian Federation en route from mainland Russia to its Kaliningrad exclave. The aircraft had a pre-filed flight plan and kept radio contact with air traffic controllers, but its onboard transponder was switched off.
Four Su-24 aircraft were also en route from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad when they were intercepted on Apr. 20. All four Russian fighters had flight plans and kept radio contact, but their onboard transponders were off, the ministry said.
The NATO air-policing mission in the Baltic states is conducted from Lithuania and Estonia.