As Russian jets staged a blitz of the Baltic Sea, sending NATO fighters into the skies to intercept 13 Russian aircraft Sunday and 28 more Monday, the allied pilots were able to capture dramatic video of their confrontations with the Russians. Now, NATO is making some of that video public to offer a crystal clear demonstration of the aerial Russian threat.
The video released Thursday — and viewable above — was taken from a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 on Monday. In the video, the pilot zeroes in on two Russian supersonic Su-34 fighter jets flying through international air space over the Baltic — but clearly intended to provoke a response from the NATO aerial policing force stationed there.
The Su-34, known to NATO as the “Fullback,” is a top-of-the-line Russian fighter jet that has been deployed in the Russian Air Force since 2006. The heavily armed planes can fire a wide variety of air-to-air missiles and are capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear bombs, while flying at maximum speed of 1,200 miles per hour — nearly twice the speed of sound.
The incident recorded in the NATO video was just one of numerous confrontations Monday between NATO and the Russians. The possibility of any non-threatening intent by the Russian jets was dispelled when the Dutch pilots requested that their Russian counterparts identify themselves — and the Russians refused. The Russian jets also failed to file flight plans, making them a hazard to commercial aviation in the area.
“The Russian planes ignored requests to identify themselves and were escorted to Russia’s Baltic Kaliningrad exclave,” a statement from the Dutch Defense Ministry said.
“Russian military activity has been considerable during the last few months. Such activity can be destabilizing and potentially dangerous, if international norms are not respected,” added NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
The Dutch F-16s took off from NATO’s Malbork Air Base in Poland, where they are stationed as part of the NATO policing force.
Poland Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak called the level of Russian jet activity over the Baltic on the weekend and Monday “unprecedented.” While he said that he did not believe that Russia was “preparing to attack,” the apparent attempt by Russia to provoke reactions from NATO defenses “does not serve to build good relationships and trust.”
Jets from the Finland Air Force were also called upon to intercept Russian jets in the weekend blitz, and the Finnish pilots were able to snap some clear shots of the Russian aircraft flying over the Baltic, such as this photograph of two Russian Tu-22M long range bombers.
And this shot of two more Su-34 fighter jets.
The Russian jets were photographed over the weekend by Finnish F/18 Hornet fighter planes that were scrambled by NATO to intercept the Russians.