Putin shocked 100 NATO jet include F-22 and F-35 intercept Russiαn jet over Baltic and Black sea
Around-the-clock NATO air patrols fly to keep Russiα at bay
More than 60 NATO planes are on “high alert” at all times to await possible airspace violations, the alliance said in December. That’s grown to more than 100 combat aircraft now rotating through the sky in shifts.
A force of myriad fighter aircraft — like American F-15s, F-16s and F-35s, plus NATO Eurofightersz — has shifted in the past week from dispatching jets as needed to escort uncooperative Russiαn pilots, to “actively defending allied airspace,” NATO’s Allied Air Command spokesperson Jonathan Bailey said Friday.
“There have been scrambles in response to Russiαn air activity in international airspace where they are not complying with air safety regulations,” Bailey told Air Force Times. “We are maintaining 24/7 patrols in the skies along our eastern borders.”
As of Feb. 26, the third day of Russiα’s invasion of Ukrαine, NATO air policing assets had not interacted with Russiαn aircraft since the wαr began, Allied Air Command told Air Force Times. That changed as the following seven days unfolded.
Russiαn pilots aren’t limiting their bad behavior to NATO nations. Four Russiαn fighters entered Swedish airspace on Wednesday, prompting the Nordic country to send up its own Gripen jets to see them out.
Two Su-27 and two Su-24 fighters violated Swedish airspace over the sea east of Gotland, an island off Sweden’s East Coast, the country’s Air Force said the same day. The event was “brief” and under control, the service said.
“With the current situation as backdrop, we take this incident very seriously. Russiα’s conduct is unprofessional and irresponsible,” Swedish Air Force boss Maj. Gen. Carl-Johan Edström said in a release.
Most of those instances occurred in the Baltics, over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where the alliance has flown air policing missions since 2004, NATO said. One intercept can involve any number of aircraft.
That level of air policing operations was lower than in 2020 but generally on par with recent years. NATO forces scrambled more than 400 times in 2020, including about 350 in response to Russiαn flights — a “moderate increase” from 2019, the alliance said.
“NATO is vigilant, and we will always do what it takes to protect and defend all allies,” spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in December.