LONDON, June 5. /TASS/. Typhoon fighter jets of the Royal Air Force (RAF) of the United Kingdom took off from a military base in Lithuania to intercept Russian military aircraft above the Baltic Sea, RAF press service said in a statement on Friday.
According to the document, the Typhoons were scrambled to intercept a Russian Il-20 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft and two Russian Su-27 Flanker B fighter jets late on Thursday. It was the second launch of NATO aircraft stationed in the Baltic region within the 48-hour window.
"The UK’s commitment to NATO is as strong as ever. Our Typhoon Force is playing a key part in support of the alliance’s air policing operations and our friends in Lithuania," the statement quoted UK Minister for Armed Forces James Heappey as saying.
The air forces of the United Kingdom and Spain started patrolling the Baltic airspace under the Baltic Air Policing mission on May 1, replacing the Belgian Air Component. In total, the United Kingdom deployed 150 servicemen in Lithuania as part of the mission.
The Baltic Air Policing million was launched on March 30, 2004. Member states of the alliance take part in it on a rotational basis. According to Russia’s assessments, the launch of NATO air patrols on this territory, which was free of any military threat at that moment, was among the alliance’s first steps towards military escalation near Russia’s borders in the 21st century.