Hungarian Gripens intercept multiple Russian aircraft over the Baltic

Hungarian Air Force-operated Saab JAS-39C Gripens, currently deployed in Lithuania in support of NATO's Baltic Air Policing initiative, intercepted multiple Russian military aircraft on August 31.

Two Gripens were scrambled from Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, a pair of Su-35S Flanker-E fighters operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces, which were escorting a single Antonov An-72 Coaler transport aircraft from St Petersburg to Kaliningrad.

Despite flying in international airspace, the Russian aircraft caused an Alpha scramble due to not having their transponders switched on, did not initiate radio contact with air traffic control and did not file any flight plans.

One of the two Russian Su-35 Flanker Es which was escorting the AN-72 transport aircraft seen during the intercept
One of the two Russian Su-35S Flanker-Es (Bort No '23 Red') which was escorting the An-72 transport aircraft seen during the intercept on August 31, 2022. Hungarian Air Force

Flying just below 30,000ft over the Baltic Sea, the three Russian aircraft were identified at roughly 13:00 local time and intercepted successfully by the Gripens. After intercepting the adversary aircraft, the Gripens returned to Šiauliai.

Hungary took over the Air Policing role at Šiauliai in late July this year after taking over from Spain as the lead nation. The Czech Republic with five Gripens remained in Lithuania alongside the Hungarian Air Force to augment the safety of allied airspace by flying patrol missions around the NATO Eastern Flank for an extra month and are believed to have returned back to the Czech Republic on September 1.

A Russian Air Force AN-72 seen during the intercept made over the Baltic Sea by the Hungarian Air Force Jas-39 Gripens
An An-72 Coaler operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces is seen during the intercept made over the Baltic Sea by the Hungarian Air Force JAS-39C Gripens on August 31, 2022. Hungarian Air Force

Hungary currently has five Gripens and over 80 service members from the 59th Szentgyörgyi Dezső Air Base in Kecskemét, Hungary. The five Gripens will carry this responsibility until November to ensure the allied air space above is secure.

A Hungarian Gripen fighter aircraft arrives at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania to take over as the lead nation from Spain in the 60th NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation.
A Hungarian Gripen arrives at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania to take over as the lead nation from Spain in the 60th NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation. Lithuanian Air Force