Baltic Air Patrol QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service is always quite busy.
On Apr. 18, the Italian Air Force two Italian Air Force Typhoons deployed to Šiauliai, Lithuania, for the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, were scrambled to identify and escort a Russian Federation patrol aircraft flying close to Latvia’s airspace.
The alert take off of the QRA aircraft was ordered by the CAOC (Combined Air Operations Centre) in Uedem, Germany to intercept a Russian Il-20 on a routine intelligence gathering sortie over the Baltic Sea.
Interestingly, the intercept mission flown by the Italian F-2000s (as the Typhoons are designated within the Aeronautica Militare) was the 27th since the Italian Air Force took over the lead role of BAP on Jan. 1! Quite impressive, if compared to the standard frequency QRA cells are scrambled during the standard national air security service at home.
One of the 27 missions flown by the Italian Typhoons was launched to intercept a Tu-22M Backfire bomber flying at supersonic speed towards Sweden.
Since Russian invasion of Crimea and subsequent international crisis over Ukraine, Russian activity in the Baltic Area has increased, often forcing NATO jet fighters on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at several airbase in Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, to perform Alert Scrambles to identify Moscow’s warplanes flying with transponder switched off, no flight plan and no radio contact, in international airspace.
Russian planes based in Kaliningrad Oblast have also intercepted NATO spyplanes in the area.
Image credit: Eurofighter