Aug 14, 2023 at 5:57 PM Update: 4 minutes ago
The United Kingdom intercepted two Russian bombers on Monday. This happened a few hours after two Dutch F-16s took to the air in a similar incident.
In both cases, the Russian planes flew close to the airspace of NATO countries.
The interception by the British Typhoon jets happened in international airspace north of Scotland. According to British Defense Secretary James Heappey, two Russian long-range bombers passed north of the Shetland Islands. They were followed by the British planes, without a direct confrontation.
The Russian Defense Ministry says they were strategic bombers. They would perform routine flights over international waters in the Arctic. “The flights were conducted in strict accordance with international rules,” Russia said.
Russia also reported that it had sent a fighter jet after a Norwegian plane allegedly crossed the border over the Barents Sea.
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Earlier on Monday, two Dutch F-16s came into action when two unknown aircraft approached Benelux airspace from the north. Defense gave the signal for the planes to take off at 07:19.
“This measure is announced when an aircraft that has not identified itself enters the area that must protect the Netherlands,” a spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Air Force told NU.nl. It can be a fighter plane, but also a passenger aircraft.
Dutch deployment was ultimately unnecessary, because the Danish air force intercepted the aircraft in time. According to the spokesperson, the F-16s only made a round after take-off.
In the event of an interception, the pilots try to make radio contact with an aircraft and identify it. The Russian planes were then turned around and escorted back by the Danes. To be on the safe side, the Dutch aircraft lingered for a while, but eventually they returned to the airbase in Volkel.
The Netherlands keeps an eye on the area because of agreements with the NATO military alliance. The airspace monitored by the Netherlands borders on the Danish airspace in the north. As a result, the F-16s could be on the scene quickly if the Russian aircraft entered the airspace monitored by the Netherlands.
The Amsterdam Flight Information Region, the part that the Netherlands has to keep an eye on. Photo: Ministry of Defence
Dutch F-16s in action a few times a year
Dutch F-16s respond on average to unknown aircraft a few times a year. “It sometimes happens that an aircraft enters Dutch airspace without identification. Then the F-16s come into action to handle this. It is not necessarily about Russian aircraft,” says the spokesman.
It does happen with some regularity that Russian aircraft violate the airspace of a European country or come close to it. At the beginning of this year, the Netherlands intercepted Russian aircraft several times. The Dutch aircraft were then stationed in Poland to monitor NATO airspace.
At the beginning of February, three Russian aircraft were remotely escorted by Dutch F-35s. Other NATO allies subsequently accompanied the aircraft further.