Dutch F-35 fighter jets were scrambled and intercepted a formation of Russian military planes flying near Polish airspace, said Dutch defense officials on Tuesday.
The Netherlands’ Ministry of Defense said that the three Russian jets were escorted out by two F-35 fighters.
“The-then unknown aircraft approached the Polish NATO area of responsibility from Kaliningrad,” the statement said. It was referring to the Russian enclave located between NATO members Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Sea. The Netherlands, meanwhile, is a founding member of NATO.
“After identification, it turned out to be three aircraft: a Russian IL-20M Coot-A that was escorted by two Su-27 Flankers,” the Dutch ministry’s statement continued. “The Dutch F-35s escorted the formation from a distance and handed over the escort to NATO partners.”
The Il-20M Coot-A is another name for the Russian Ilyushin Il-20M reconnaissance aircraft. Su-27 Flankers are the same as the Russian Sukhoi Su-28 fighter aircraft.
A spokesperson for the Polish Defense Ministry told Politico Europe on Tuesday the planes were traveling over international waters. “None of [Poland’s] airspace has been interrupted,” the ministry spokesperson said.
“Dutch F-35 stationed at the 22nd Tactical Air Base in Malbork were scrambled on Monday in order to identify and intercept three Russian aircraft that were operating near Polish airspace,” Polish officials said.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense has not issued any public statements in response to the interception. No statements were published Tuesday on prominent state-run Russian media outlets.
The Netherlands’ defense ministry said that eight Dutch F-35s will be stationed in Poland between February and March. The Polish defense ministry added that the operation was routine.
The fly-by comes as tensions remain relatively escalated between the Kremlin and NATO amid the Russia–Ukraine war. And the interception comes as the United States, a NATO member, shot down several unknown objects over North American territory in recent days, an incident that occurred days after an F-22 Raptor shot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon near the South Carolina coast.
It’s not uncommon for Russian warplanes to fly near NATO or U.S. territory. In October, the U.S. military confirmed two Air Force F-16 fighter planes intercepted Russian nuclear-capable bombers off the Alaskan coast after they were spotted within the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.
“The recent Russian activity in the North American ADIZ is not seen as a threat nor is the activity seen as provocative. NORAD tracks and positively identifies foreign military aircraft that enter the ADIZ. NORAD routinely monitors foreign aircraft movements and as necessary, escorts them from the ADIZ,” a statement from North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said at the time.
Several weeks before that, NORAD said that it had tracked and identified two Russian patrol aircraft inside the Canadian and Alaskan ADIZ, although the Russian planes didn’t enter either U.S. or Canadian airspace.
Also in Europe, NATO said last August it had scrambled fighter jets over the Baltic and Black seas after Russian aircraft were detected flying near the bloc’s airspace.
“NATO radars tracked a number of unidentified aircraft over the Baltic and Black Seas since April 26,” NATO said, adding that jets “in their respective regions” were called to “intercept and identify the approaching aircraft.” Poland, Romania, Denmark, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom launched fighter planes to probe the affected airspace, it said.
In Asia, South Korean officials said that a group of eight fighter jets and four bombers operated by North Korea flew in formation near the inter-Korean air boundary in October. They are believed to have carried out air-to-surface military drills, officials with South Korea’s military said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley were in Belgium to discuss providing more military assistance and funding to Ukraine amid the nearly year-long war with Russia.
During a news conference in Brussels, Milley elaborated more on the object that was shot down near Lake Huron, Michigan, over the past weekend. He disclosed that a missile fired by a U.S. F-16 missed the object but that the second missile hit and that the first missile did no damage to life or property.
Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times