Russian Su-24 Fencer Combat Aircraft (Closely Watched By Swedish JAS 39 Gripen Jets) Buzz Dutch Navy Frigate In The Baltic

Russian Fencers have started buzzing NATO warships in the Baltic Sea again.

On May 17, two Russian Su-24M Fencer attack jets flew quite close to the Royal Netherlands Navy Frigate HNLMS Evertsen, operating in the Baltic Sea.

The two unarmed aircraft, escorted by Swedish JAS-39 Gripen jets in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert), come within 200 meters of the ship.

The Fencers that carried out the low passages over a Dutch Navy frigate in the Baltic. Highlighted is an accompanying JAS 39 Gripen. Credit: Royal Netherlands Navy.

The Fencer are not new to this kind of “overflights”: in Apr. 2016, some Su-24s performed as many as 20 overflights, within 1,000 yards of the ship, as low as 100 feet and 11 “very low simulated attack” over USS Donald Cook destroyer in the Baltic Sea. Two years earlier, in April 2014, a Russian Su-24MR, flew within 1,000 yards of the very same US Navy destroyer that was operating in the Black Sea following the crisis in Ukraine. At that time, a show of force considered  “provocative and inconsistent with international agreements.”

One of the two Russian Su-24 Fencer jets that “harassed” the Dutch frigate in the Baltic Sea on May 17.

This time the Dutch Navy has claimed “the passage wasn’t a threat to the ship.”

Indeed, HMLMS Evertsen is one of the four De Zeven Provinciën-class highly advanced air-defense and command frigates in service with the Dutch Navy.

It is specialised in the anti-air warfare equipped with a long-range surveillance SMART-L and the APAR multi-function radar. The warship is equipped with 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles launched by the Mk41 VLS (Vertical Launch System), for point defence; and 32 SM-2 Block IIIA, area defence missiles: a heavily armed warship that could probably counter the Su-24 threat pretty well.

Fast and low, one of the Russian Su-24s approaching the Dutch warships in the Baltics.
In the event of a real attack, the jets would have to employ stand-off weaponry

H/T Steven Bal for the heads-up. Image credit: Dutch Navy.


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. In case of russian airplane attack the Dutch frigate would use so called f.. o.. weaponry.

  2. I think it’s time NATO institute the “Baltic Naval Drone Flying Club for Bad Pilots.”. Whereby enlisted men on NATO ships would be allowed to fly their drones around the ship in any haphazard manner they see fit. With a special emphasis on -hazard-. Of course NOTAMS will go out warning any skilled aviators flying nearby that any and all NATO vessels should be given proper leeway as at any time the crew might be flying their drones in a very unskilled and unsafe manner. Flyby at your own risk. Close flyby’s will be considered proof of your reading and abiding to the terms and risks of this NOTAM.

  3. Did you know that the Dutch East Indies Company navy was larger than the British Royal navy not so long ago? Did you know that the Russian (or Soviet) Navy has never gotten over the fact that its first submarine was built in the United States by what eventually became General Dynamics at Groton. Let’s stop this nonsense before someone gets hurt. Well, maybe if we put Putin and Trump on a barge in the middle of the Baltic and let them duke it out we can get a definitive resolution to this “boys must be men” game.

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