Two Belgian fighter jets intercepted four Russian military aircraft reportedly flying over the Baltic Sea, in NATO airspace, unauthorised, the Belgian Air Force announced.
The Air Force announced that the Russian aircraft were two Russian Blackjack bomber planes and two Flanker fighters, sharing images of the combat jets on Twitter.
Reports that the Russian planes were flying in Baltic airspace unauthorised came at around 1:00 PM, according to Le Soir, triggering a military scramble which saw the Belgian F-16s quickly catch up with the Russian aircraft.
Some close ups of a Russian Blackjack from today's interception by the @BeAirForce. #DYK The Tupolev #TU160 Blackjack is a nuclear capable supersonic strategic bomber. It has a range of 12300 km and a maximum speed of twice the speed of sound. #NATO #BAP pic.twitter.com/Xp54adwPuI
— Belgian Air Force?? (@BeAirForce) September 17, 2019
“Both F-16s professionally escorted the planes beyond the borders of NATO,” the Air Force said, according to the outlet.
The interception marks the first scramble of the Belgian jets since they were first deployed to Lithuania to protect Baltic airspace under a NATO agreement, since Baltic nations do not have combat aircraft.
The Russian aircrafts were reportedly intercepted because they did not have the authorisation to enter NATO airspace, a claim that Russian officials deny.
The Russian defence ministry said that the four fighter jets were flying above neutral waters, according to Le Soir, and confirmed that all four aircraft had returned to base.
The Brussels Times