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Russian Aircraft Intercepted By Four RAF Typhoons As Part Of Nato Policing Of Baltic Airspace

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Four RAF Typhoons were scrambled from the Siauliai air base in Lithuania | PA

British fighter planes were scrambled on Tuesday to intercept "multiple Russian aircraft" as part of Nato's on-going mission to police the airspace of the Baltic States, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The RAF Typhoon fighters from 3 Squadron were scrambled after four groups of aircraft, subsequently identified as a Russian Tupolev Tu22 Backfire bomber, four Sukhoi Su27 Flanker fighters, one Beriev A50 Mainstay early-warning aircraft and an Antonov An26 Curl transport aircraft, were detected by Nato air defences in international airspace over the Baltic.

According to the MoD, the Russian aircraft, which appeared to be on a routine training mission, were monitored by the Typhoons and escorted on their way.

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On Wednesday, Wing Commander Ian Townsend said: "We regularly intercept Russian and civilian aircraft from UK Quick Reaction Alert and so this type of mission is core business for us and exactly what we were sent to the Baltic region by Nato to do. It was a thoroughly successful operation with both my ground crew and aircrew performing to the exacting professional high standards I have come to expect."

In April, a pair of Russian surveillance planes flew close to UK airspace, forcing the RAF to scramble jet fighters. The Russian planes, reported to be Tupolev 95s, were detected flying off the coast of Scotland and turned away from Britain after the RAF dispatched the jets from Leuchars airbase, near Dundee.

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Four Typhoons - which are now stationed at the Siauliai air base in Lithuania - were deployed to the region last month in a show of support by Nato against the backdrop of the crisis in the Ukraine. Russia's backing for armed separatists in the Ukraine had increased nervousness in the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia which do not have their own air defence fighters and rely upon Nato.

In the past week, Nato aircraft have been scrambled 13 times due to unidentified aircraft operating around the Baltic region. Tuesday's interception was the sixth to have been carried carried out by the British aircraft since their arrival from their home base in at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, in support of the Polish-led Nato detachment in Lithuania.

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