This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
NATO says it scrambled fighter jets 10 times amid what it called an unusual level of Russian air activity over Europe.
Alliance warplanes were scrambled on March 29 “to shadow Russian bombers and fighters during an unusual peak of flights over the North Atlantic, North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea,” NATO said in a statement on March 30.
“In all, NATO aircraft intercepted six different groups of Russian military aircraft near Alliance airspace in less than six hours,” the statement said.
Norwegian F-16 jets intercepted two Tu-95 Bear bombers, which continued to fly south over the North Sea, prompting Britain and Belgium to scramble Typhoon and F-16 fighters.
The same day, the Norwegian warplanes intercepted two Russian Tu-160 bombers over international waters.
Above the Black Sea, Turkish, Romanian, and Bulgarian fighter jets were scrambled after alliance radars detected three Russian military aircraft near NATO airspace, tracking them until they left the area.
“Separately, Italian fighter aircraft intercepted a Russian Il 38 maritime patrol aircraft which was escorted by fighter jets over the Baltic Sea flying into and out of [the Russian exclave of] Kaliningrad,” the statement said.
“Intercepting multiple groups of Russian aircraft demonstrates NATO forces’ readiness and capability to guard Allied skies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at Allied Air Command, Ramstein, Germany, was quoted as saying.
The Russian aircraft intercepted on March 29 “never entered Alliance airspace, and the interceptions were conducted in a safe and routine manner,” NATO said.