Britain scrambles Typhoons to tackle Putin fighter jets two days running

BRITAIN has scrambled fighter jets for the second time in two days to intercept Russian aircraft in the Baltic.

Typhoons deployed in Estonia were launched on Wednesday to intercept two SU-27 fighters and an IL-22 aircraft, escorting the formation towards Russia.

It was the second day in a row the RAF confronted Putin’s airforce after scrambling out of Ämari Air Base in Estonia in response to two Russian SU-27 fighter jets and one IL-22 flying along the Baltic coast heading towards Kaliningrad.

Wing Commander Paul “Pablo” O’Grady, who was conducting QRA duty when the first scramble was called, said: “On May 14, my flight of QRA Typhoons were scrambled on a Baltic Air Policing Mission tasked to intercept and identify an unknown aircraft.

“Six minutes after take-off from Ämari Air Base, vectored by Estonian fighter controllers, we closed quickly on a Russian IL-22 which was being escorted by two Russian SU-27 fighters.

“Flying alongside the Russian aircraft at a safe distance, myself and my wingman (a United States Airforce Lt Col), ensured that the Russian aircraft were safely escorted around Estonian airspace.

“The Russian pilots and crews behaved in a professional and calm manner with nothing untoward.

“We subsequently handed the Russian formation over to the Hungarian QRA that had launched out of Lithuania to continue the escort towards Kaliningrad.

“This was the first Baltic Air Policing Mission of the Typhoon Detachment providing assurance of our capability and demonstrating the UK’s commitment to our NATO Allies.”

Tensions were also high yesterday in the English Channel after HMS Northumberland was scrambled to intercept a Russian destroyer.

Minister for the armed forces Mark Lancaster said: “At the same time as our troops forge stronger ties with NATO Allies in Estonia, our RAF Typhoons are policing Baltic skies and providing a rapid response to any approaches towards NATO airspace.

“Together it sends a clear message – we are committed to defending NATO’s borders and will support our Allies in deterring any threats.”

Britain took over the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from the German Air Force last month.

These are the first scrambles since it took over the duty.

Relations between Britain and Russia remain frosty amid ongoing rows over the poisoning of MI6 double agent Sergi Skripal in Salisbury, allegations of Putin trying to interfere in Western elections, and the ongoing military build-up near Eastern Europe.

Russia has repeatedly denied being aggressive to the UK and says Britain is fanning the flames of Russophobia.

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