On April 20, NATO airlifted fighters from bases in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland to track and intercept Russian fighters, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea. This was reported by the NATO Air Command Public Relations Department.
As noted, in the morning NATO radars tracked unidentified aircraft over the Baltic Sea. In response, NATO’s Joint Air Operations Center (CAOC) in Udeme, Germany, launched Allied fighters into the Baltic region to intercept and identify approaching aircraft.
The Alliance says that some of the aircraft were not identified by a repeater signal and a flight plan was not submitted – this could pose a threat to the safety of flights, including for civil aviation.
As NATO found out, two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers, accompanied by Su-27 and Su-35 fighters, flew over the Baltic Sea from the mainland of Russia, where they operated with the Russian airborne early warning and control aircraft A-50 Mainstay, which also accompanied by fighters.
In response, the CAOC fired German and Italian fighters from NATO’s Baltic air patrol missions in Estonia and Lithuania, respectively, and F-16 fighters from the Polish Air Force from Poznan airbase. The Royal Danish Air Force’s National Air Operations Center deployed its F-16s from Skridstrup airbase to meet Russian aircraft.
As noted, the Russian bombers remained in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea and returned to mainland Russia after about three hours.