Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s assigned to the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) were scrambled to intercept an unidentified Russian fighter in international airspace over the Black Sea on August 17.
The RAF Typhoons were scrambled from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base (AB) near Constanta, Romania, to intercept the Russian fighter as it was detected entering the Bucharest Flight Information Region, heading towards Romanian territorial airspace. In a press release, the RAF said: “As with many Russian military sorties, the aircraft had not filed a flight plan and was not speaking with Romanian Air Traffic Control, making it a flight safety hazard to all air users.”
Once airborne, the unknown Russian fighter was quickly identified as a Sukhoi Su-24 (NATO reporting name: Fencer). One of the RAF pilots involved in the quick reaction alert (QRA) sortie said: “When the unidentified, though suspected Russian aircraft entered the Romanian Flight Information Region, we were scrambled to carry out a visual identification. We were airborne within minutes and heading towards the track; it wasn’t long before we intercepted the aircraft and identified it as a Russian Su-24 Fencer.
“It had flown no closer than 20 miles from the Romanian coast before we intercepted it. We shadowed it until it left the Flight Information Region heading North East. We then resumed our combat air patrol mission and returned to base,” the pilot added.
A detachment of RAF Typhoons are currently deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu AB in support of NATO’s Enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission, which was established to augment the alliance’s existing Baltic Air Policing initiative following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Since May 2021, the UK has been providing QRA assistance to enhance to air policing capabilities of the Romanian Air Force, which operates a fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcon and Mikoyan-Gurvich MiG-21 LanceR-B/C fighters.
Wg Cdr Lamping, the officer commanding the 121 EAW, added: “Every time we scramble to intercept unidentified aircraft in support of the [eAP] mission, we are demonstrating our steadfast commitment to NATO by helping to secure NATO airspace in the Black Sea region and reassure our Romanian allies.”