Italian Typhoon jets have intercepted a Russian Air Force Il-78 tanker over the Baltic Sea
The Italian Eurofighter Typhoon interceptors have had their first close encounter with a Russian jet since taking over the lead nation role within NATO Baltic Air Patrol.
On Jan. 30, two Italian Air Force Typhoons deployed to Šiauliai, Lithuania, to provide Air Policing in the Baltics region, were scrambled to identify and escort a Russian Air Force Il-78 Midas flying close to NATO Baltic States airspace, Latvia’s Military said on its official Twitter account.
Although no further details about the mission have been disclosed, it looks like the Russian Il-78 shadowed by the Italians was not one of the tankers that supported the Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers on their 19-hour mission to the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week, but it was probably only flying a training sortie over the Baltic Sea.
Still, the air policing mission marks the first intercept mission by the Italian F-2000s (as the Typhoons are designated within the Aeronautica Militare) on Russian planes since the Italian Air Force took over the lead role of BAP on Jan. 1.
Russian Air Force missions in the region often require NATO jet fighters on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at several airbase in Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, to perform Alert Scrambles, to intercept Il-20 spyplanes, Tu-22M Backfire bombers and Su-27 fighter jets. Such close encounters have become a bit more frequent since Russian invasion of Crimea and subsequent international crisis over Ukraine.
Image credit: Eurofighter