The United Kingdom Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon FGR4 Eurofighter jets were scrambled on Sunday (July 28, 2019) to intercept a Russian IL-76 military transport aircraft flying close to Estonian airspace. The Typhoon Eurofighters took off from Estonia's Amari Air Base where they are based as part of Operation AZOTIZE in support of Baltic Air Policing.
According to an RAF press release on the incident, the Typhoons are operating from Amari Air Base on a routine NATO mission in partnership with Estonia. In the last couple of months, the Typhoons have also been called in to intercept Russian fighter jets including Sukhoi Su-30s and Su-27s.
"As this latest Quick Reaction Alert demonstrates, the RAF are frequently called upon to use their world class skills and capabilities to help police and protect the skies over the Baltics. Our personnel deployed to Estonia and around the world are always ready to react to any scenario as we continue our commitment to our NATO allies," said UK Defence Secretary Robert Ben Lobban Wallace said.
A Typhoon pilot who was conducting Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty when the scramble was called and was part of the intercept mission said that it was a standard protocol. "We were scrambled to intercept an aircraft that was approaching Estonian airspace from the south. We identified and monitored it as it transited close to NATO airspace. This is standard protocol for aircraft that might not be communicating with Air Traffic Control or on a recognised flight plan. We continued to escort the transport aircraft as it transited in a north direction, away from Estonian airspace," said the fighter pilot from XI(Fighter) Squadron, attached to 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW).
Sunday's intercept is 14th QRA scramble and intercept since the RAF took over enhanced Air Policing (eAP) from the German Air Force on May 3, 2019, as part of Baltic Air Policing. During one of their busiest period, the RAF Typhoons were scrambled on June 14 and 15 to intercept Russian Sukhoi Su-30s, and 10 days later the Eurofighter had to once again intercept a Su-27.
The RAF also released photos of the Typhoon jets intercepting the Su-30s on June 14 and 15. On the second day, the Su-30 was accompanying an Ilyushin IL-76 Candid transport aircraft. Three photos released by the RAF shows the Typhoons flying alongside the Su-30 jets.