MOSCOW (Sputnik) – NATO fighter jets based on Lithuania’s Siauliai and Estonia’s Amari air bases, were allegedly scrambled three times last week to intercept the Russian warplanes over the Baltic Sea, Lithuania’s National Defense Ministry said Monday.
"On April 18, NATO fighter jets conducting the Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States from Siauliai Air Base were scrambled to intercept military aircraft of the Russian Federation flying from and back to Kaliningrad. The aircraft flew in international airspace above the Baltic Sea without having pre-filed flight plans, with their onboard transponders switched off, and did not maintain radio communication with air traffic control centres," the ministry said in a statement.
On April 21, fighter jets conducting the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission were once again scrambled to identify and escort the Russian aircraft, the ministry added.
"The fighter jets operated from Siauliai Air Base identified and escorted two Su-24 front-line bombers which took off from Kaliningrad and later returned to starting point. The NATO fighter aircraft operated from Amari identified and escorted two Tu-22 strategic bombers flying from and subsequently back to the mainland of the Russian Federation," it specified.
Spain and Belgium are currently implementing NATO air patrols in the Baltics in compliance with a regular rotation principle introduced in April 2004. Spain leads the mission with four Eurofighter Typhoon jets based at Siauliai, Lithuania, while Belgium based its four F-16 fighter jets at the Amari Air Base in Estonia.