NATO Allied Air Command

NATO Allied Air Command

A Belgian F-16 fighter patrolling the Baltic region on Friday morning intercepted two Russian Air Force fighters flying over a US destroyer off of the Lithuanian coast.

“The Belgian F-16 conducted a professional intercept and left the scene, demonstrating that NATO remains ready, vigilant and prepared to respond to any potential threat,” NATO’s air command said in a brief statement.

The USS Donald Cook is deployed to the region with a focus on “regional stability and “honing anti-submarine warfare capabilities in the Atlantic,” according to NATO.

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A Belgian F-16 fighter patrolling the Baltic region on Friday morning intercepted two Russian Air Force fighters flying over a US destroyer off the Lithuanian coast.

A video released by NATO’s Allied Air Command showed the Russian jets “maneuvering in international airspace” over the USS Donald Cook, a US destroyer deployed to the Baltic Sea since April 11.

“The Belgian F-16 conducted a professional intercept and left the scene, demonstrating that NATO remains ready, vigilant and prepared to respond to any potential threat,” the air command said in a brief statement.

The USS Donald Cook is deployed to the region with a focus on “regional stability and “honing anti-submarine warfare capabilities in the Atlantic,” according to NATO.

In addition to the USS Donald Cook, the USS Porter was also deployed on April 13 for a joint-exercise with the Regina Maria, a Romanian frigate.

“These deployments show that NATO allies are working closely together, determined to ensure that potential adversaries do not exploit the situation to further their interests,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in an April 17 statement.

NATO members routinely rotate their patrols in the Baltic airspace. The US military made note of recent provocations made by Russian fighter jets.

On April 8, US F-22 fighters intercepted two Russian IL-38, a maritime patrolling aircraft, entering the Bering Sea in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.

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A week later, a Russian Su-35 fighter jet buzzed a US Navy P-8A Poseidon, an anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft, flying over the Mediterranean Sea. The Russian jet flew an ‘inverted maneuver’ just 25 feet in front of the US aircraft, according to US Naval Forces Europe-Africa. The crew of the P-8A Poseidon experienced “wake turbulence” during the 42-minute encounter, the Navy said.

On Sunday, another Su-35 fighter intercepted a US Navy P-8A Poseidon over the Mediterranean Sea in a similar fashion.

Belgian jets have intercepted Russian aircraft in the past. In 2019, Belgian F-16s were scrambled to intercept two Russian Tu-160 bombers accompanied by two Sukhoi Su-27 over the Baltic Sea.

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