British and German jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian aircraft flying near Estonia’s airspace on Tuesday — just hours after the US military had to ditch a surveillance drone in the Black Sea following an encounter with Russian warplanes.
The Typhoon jets from the two NATO allies were dispatched to escort an IL78 Midas Russian air-to-air refueling plane after it failed to communicate with air traffic controllers in Estonia, the British defense ministry announced on Wednesday.
The UK and German fighter jets were part of a planned Joint NATO Air Policing mission – a first for the two alliance members.
The interception of the Il78 Midas flying between St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad was routine, the ministry stressed.
“NATO continues to form the bedrock of our collective security,” said armed forces minister James Heappey said.
“This joint UK and German deployment in the Baltics clearly demonstrates our collective resolve to challenge any potential threat to NATO’s borders, whilst demonstrating our combined strength,” he said.
The US military was forced to down an MQ-9 surveillance drone in international waters after two Russian jet fighters came in contact with the aircraft’s propeller.