A Belgian F-16 fighter jet chased off a group of Russian Air Force fighter jets flying over a U.S. warship near the coast of Lithuania on Friday.
NATO’s Allied Air Command Facebook account shared a video of the encounter as the Belgian pilot flew up on the pair of Russian fighter jets circling the airspace above missile destroyer USS Donald Cook as it sailed in the Baltic Sea.
“The Belgian F-16 conducted a professional intercept and left the scene, demonstrating that NATO remains ready, vigilant and prepared to respond to any potential threat,” NATO said in a statement accompanying the video.
In the video, the Belgian F-16 comes up on the wing of one of two Russian SU-24 fighter jets, both of which appeared to armed. As the Belgian fighter continued to chase the first pair of SU-24s, what appeared to be a SU-27 and SU-30SM could also be seen flying alongside the Belgian fighter.
The @BeAirForce #NATO Baltic Air Policing mission had a busy week protecting the integrity of the Alliance airspace in the #Baltic region. Our #F16 aircraft and crew performed 5 alpha scrambles. 🇧🇪 pilots intercepted, among others, #SU24, #SU27, #TU134 and #AN26. #BAF #WeAreNATO pic.twitter.com/zSiNFF7J9S
— Belgian Air Force🇧🇪 (@BeAirForce) April 18, 2020
The Belgian Air Force noted it performed five “alpha scrambles” during the week of the intercept mission, and also intercepted Russian TU-134 and AN-26 transport aircraft flying in the region.
Belgian F-16 fighters are reportedly deployed in support of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.
The Belgian fighter performed its intercept mission just two days after a Russian SU-35 fighter jet buzzed past a U.S. Navy P8-A Poseidon reconnaissance plane flying over international airspace above the Mediterranean Sea. The Russian fighter in that incident flew an inverted pass within 25 feet of the Navy plane in what the Navy later described as an “unsafe” maneuver that caused its plane to experience wake turbulence from the Russian fighter jet.
Days later another U.S. Navy P8-A Poseidon was intercepted by a SU-35 as it flew over the Mediterranean. The U.S. aircraft again experienced a close pass by the Russian SU-35, and again suffered wake turbulence caused by the passing fighter jet, though in this case the fighter did not fly inverted past the U.S. plane.
BREAKING: Another unsafe #Russian 🇷🇺 intercept of 🇺🇸 @USNavy P-8 in international airspace above #Mediterranean Sea! The Russian aircraft got within 25 feet of the P-8, putting both crews in harm’s way. We expect nothing less than professional & safe interactions!@USEmbRuPress pic.twitter.com/gDdcQQRkOi
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (@USNavyEurope) April 19, 2020
A U.S. Navy pilot captured video from the second intercept incident, which was shared by the U.S. 6th Fleet on Sunday night.