Last week, fighters performing the mission of NATO are Baltic Air Patrol, six times took off into the sky to escort Russian military aircraft that flew in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea, as reported by Delfi news agency citing the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense, reported this.
The NATO planes escorted Russian fighters, a transport plane and one reconnaissance aircraft. Most of the Russian planes flew with transponders turned off.
Despite the fact that, after the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, the fighters of the Alliance mission are escorting Russian aircraft more often, this year the Allied fighters have never accompanied more than four aircraft in one week.
Last week, Russia held air defense exercises in the Kaliningrad region, in which Su-27 fighters took part. The spokesman for the Joint Staff of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Thomas Pakalniškis, did not comment on the connection between the activity of Russian aircraft and the exercises.
In general, this year the NATO fighters of the Baltic Air Patrol have accompanied Russian aircraft 24 times. Last year, there were 110 such identification and escort operations. Two years ago, NATO fighters took off about 160 times; in 2014, 140 times; and in 2013 - 47 times.
Currently, the mission of the NATO Baltic Air Patrol is being carried out from bases in Lithuania and Estonia. This mission has been carried out in the Baltic States since 2004, after Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the Alliance. Three years ago, the mission was reinforced by additional fighters in response to Russia's annexation of the Crimea.