Russian surveillance plane called a COOT was intercepted over the Baltic Sea by Polish F-16s, NATO said on Wednesday.
According to Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office, As part of routine readiness training, an on-duty pair of F-16 fighter aircraft conducted a Tango Scramble and then continued with an exercise sortie over the Baltic Sea.
During the mission, the status was changed to Alpha Scramble and the F-16s were ordered to intercept an unknown aircraft. It was visually identified as a Russian IL-20 COOT A, which had not filed a flight plan and was not communicating with air traffic control whilst flying through the busy airspace over Baltic Sea.
“This was the first Alpha Scramble for Polish detachment, called “Orlik 10′, and it was an excellent opportunity to confirm the uniformity of procedures, detachment’s operational readiness and its interoperability with other NATO components.” said Polish Detachment Commander Lt Col Paweł Stajniak. “The mission was successfully conducted in accordance with Baltic Air Policing rules of engagement and other pertaining regulations,” he added.
The Air Policing mission tracks and intercepts aircraft flying near Allied airspace when the unidentified aircraft is not communicating with air traffic control and/or did not file a flight plan, causing potential air space mishaps and violations.
Since 2004, Allies and NATO have collectively secured the airspace above Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Air Policing is a peacetime operation designed to ensure the safety of all air travelers through and near Allied airspace.