Russian spyplane violates Lithuania airspace, Canadian Hornets intercept it

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


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet jets intercepted and shadowed a Russian Air Force Il-20 Coot over Lithuania.

    intercept, v.:–to take, seize, or halt (someone or something on the way from one place to another); cut off from an intended destination.
    shadow, v.: — to follow and watch (someone) especially in a secret way

    • Don Don, are you new to the English vernacular or perhaps adopted the prose? Two formal word types exist, along with a few qualified lesser terms.. The main two are verbs & nouns, perhaps you’ve heard of them? They provide quite an amazing feature to conversation in the form of context, amazing thing context. In fact your reply misses context by comparing a verb to a noun, as the noun of Shadow is:

      ‘a dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface’

      The noun of Intercept is

      -An interception of a radio broadcast or a telephone call.
      ​-(algebraic geometry) The coordinate of the point at which a curve intersects an axis.

      Which in this instance is as relevant as any other term, for instance escort

      Perhaps now you can stop copy & pasting the same response every time Russia goes into international airspace corridor and one of their neighbours intercepts them to escort them away from known Airspace corridors without transponders

  2. Why do the Canadians need to add C in front of and sometime extra numbers at the end of their aircraft model names? The’re not that different to the same models operated by other air forces. Really what’s the point?

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