Showcasing Alliance vigilance and readiness, Spanish NATO Air Policing assets scrambled on March 4 to intercept Russian fighters flying in international airspace in the vicinity of Alliance territory. NATO radars recorded an unidentified track in international airspace over the southern Black Sea heading to Romanian airspace. Around noon on March 4, the southern Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejón, Spain, scrambled Spanish Eurofighters stationed in Romania conducting NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission. The Russian fighters operated over international airspace all the time; once they turned and headed back north east, the Spanish Eurofighters redeployed to their temporary home base on the Black Sea shore.
“During the alert mission, our Eurofighters identified two Russian Su-30 military aircraft that were flying without transponder signal and flight plan, not in contact with civilian Air Traffic Control,” said Lieutenant Colonel José Enrique Hernández Medel, Spanish detachment commander at Mihail Koglaniceanu Air Base. “My aircrew conducted this first alert mission professionally under the tactical control of the Romanian Control and Reporting Centre. They shadowed the Russian aircraft demonstrating NATO’s ability to quickly respond to situations arising near Alliance air space,” he added.
Since 2014, NATO has authorized additional fighter detachments along the eastern flank of the Alliance to demonstrate readiness to defend and deter eastern Allies against any potential aggression. Several Allies have deployed their fighter detachment to the Romanian Air Base at Constanta to fly NATO enhanced Air Policing missions alongside Romania’s Air Force. At present the Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon fighters are deployed to the enduring mission for the first time underscoring cohesion and solidarity among the Allies. Since 2014, Baltic Air Policing has been continuously augmented as part of the Assurance Measures by a second detachment, based at Ämari, Estonia.