Two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet jets intercepted and shadowed a Russian Air Force Il-20 Coot over Lithuania.
On Nov. 8, two RCAF CF-18 (or CF-188) Hornet jets deployed to Lithuania for NATO Baltic Air Policing mission were radar-vectored to intercept and escort a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 Coot-A plane flying off the Baltic coast.
According to Canadian media outlets, the CF-18s were conducting a routine training sortie out of Siauliai airbase, when they were re-tasked to visually ID the Russian ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) plane that had violated Lithuania’s airspace (even if some sources say the Il-20 was reached by the Canadian Hornets as it was flying over international waters – hence, in international airspace).
The CF-18s shadowed the Il-20 for 5 minutes, took some photographs (not yet released), then were ordered to return to base.
The Il-20 electronic reconnaissance plane is, by far, the Russian aircraft most frequently intercepted by NATO fighter jets in the Baltic region.
On Oct. 20, a Russian Il-20 was intercepted by Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188s scrambled from Siauliai in Lithuania; on Oct. 21, Portuguese AF F-16s, also deployed to Siauliai airbase for NATO Baltic Air Policing mission were scrambled to intercept and shadow an Il-20 Coot intelligence gathering aircraft.
The same type of aircraft was involved in the near-miss incident on Mar. 3, 2014, when SAS flight SK 681, a Boeing 737 with 132 people on board from Kastrup – Copenhagen to Rome had to change course in order to avoid colliding into an Il-20, flying without transponder and therefore not visible to the civil Air Traffic Control, about 50 miles to the southwest of Malmö.
Image credit: RCAF