In 2016, NATO fighter jets were scrambled 780 times from military bases in Europe in order to visually identify and escort planes from the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS). This is a record number of such incidents since the time of the Cold War, news outlet DPA reported, citing representatives of the Ramstein US Air Force Base in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
About 90 other such flights were made on account of the military planes of other states, passenger liners or other transport aircraft, which could not be identified immediately on the radar screens.
In 2015, the number of flights related to the detection of Russian fighter planes was nearly half as much – 410, the news agency’s source noted.
Since the annexation of Crimea, the Baltic States have spoken many times about their vulnerability to Russia’s aggressive politics. In this connection, NATO has increased its patrolling of the airspace of its Baltic allies. Jay Janzen, representative of NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) stated previously that Russia’s maneuvers could pose a potential threat to civil aviation, because the transponders are frequently deactivated on Russian bombers and fighters.