RAF and German jets intercept Russian aircraft near Estonian airspace

Two Typhoon fighters jets

RAF and German fighter jets have intercepted a Russian aircraft near Estonian airspace in the first joint operation of its kind.

The two Typhoons were scrambled on Tuesday to intercept an Il-78 Midas refuelling plane flying between St Petersburg and Kaliningrad. The plane had failed to communicate with air traffic control in Estonia.

The British and German air forces are currently conducting planned joint Nato air policing in the region.

The interception itself was routine, but it is the first time such an operation has been carried out together by the two countries.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Nato and Russia over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although there is no evidence of any link with Tuesday’s reported collision between a Russian fighter jet and a US drone over the Black Sea.

After escorting the Midas, the two jets were redirected to intercept an An-148 airliner that was also passing close to Estonian airspace.

The jets are part of the RAF’s 140 Expeditionary Air Wing and the German 71 Tactical Air Wing Richthofen.

An IL-78 Midas jet flies alongside two tactical bombers
An IL-78 Midas jet (right) flying alongside two other Russian planes

The RAF is preparing to take the lead on Nato’s long-established Baltic air policing mission from the German air force in April. It will then lead the mission for four months, with joint British and German operations set to continue until the end of April. Four RAF Typhoon jets are currently deployed as part of the mission and are based at the Ämari air base in Estonia.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “Nato continues to form the bedrock of our collective security.

This joint UK and German deployment in the Baltics clearly demonstrates our collective resolve to challenge any potential threat to Nato’s borders, whilst demonstrating our combined strength.”

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