The Netherlands and Denmark have sent F-16 fighter jets to intercept two Russian bombers that approached NATO airspace over the North Sea, Bloomberg reported, citing statements by the governments of the two countries.
Two Dutch fighter jets took to the air and were ready to guard their area of responsibility after the warning at 7:19 a.m. local time. The Danish government also sent its F-16s to identify the bombers.
The Russian planes were identified and remained in international airspace. A short time later, they turned back. It was not specified which Russian planes were in question.
“This does not happen often, but today’s case demonstrates the importance of rapid deployment”, the Dutch government commented on the incident.
The airspace over the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) is monitored by the Netherlands and Belgium, and the Dutch Air Force has been in charge since mid-April. They are in constant contact with the Joint Air Operations Center in Udem, Germany, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters for airspace surveillance in Northeast Europe.
In April this year, Eurofighter fighters of the German and British air forces identified three Russian spy planes in international airspace over the Baltic Sea – two Su-27s and one Il-20. Prior to that, two Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighters and two Danish F-16 Fighting Falcon escorted a Russian Il-20 warplane over the Baltic Sea.
In January, two Tu-160 (“White Swan”) strategic bombers performed a scheduled ten-hour flight over the Arctic Ocean, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.
As emphasized in the military department, all flights of the Russian Air Force aircraft are carried out in strict compliance with international rules. In particular, long-range aviation pilots of the Russian Armed Forces perform flights over the neutral waters of the Arctic, the North Atlantic, as well as over the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Pacific Ocean.