Two Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF)F-35s carried out a first interception from Poland. Earlier today, the Dutch Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) was activated in Poland. Two fighter jets were sent into the air to identify and escort a formation of aircraft. The then unknown aircraft approached the Polish NATO area of responsibility from Kaliningrad. 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 F-35s escorted the formation from a distance and handed over the escort to NATO partners.
Il-20M (NATO reporting name: Coot-A) is a COMINT (communications intelligence) /ELINT (Electronic signals intelligence) reconnaissance aircraft version of Ilyushin Il-18. Production spanned from 1957 until 1985. A modernized Il-20M with improved radar, radio and optical-electronic reconnaissance equipment entered service in July 2020 to provide secure targeting to Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile system.The Sukhoi Su-27 (Russian: ????? ??-27; NATO reporting name: Flanker) is a Soviet-origin twin-engine supermaneuverable fighter aircraft designed by Sukhoi. The Su-27 entered service with the Soviet Air Forces in 1985.
There are eight Netherlands Air Force F-35s in Poland in February and March. Four of these fighter aircraft are available from Malbork Air Base for surveillance of NATO airspace over Eastern Europe. If desired, two aircraft can take off within minutes to intercept another aircraft. This happens, for example, when an aircraft approaches NATO airspace without identifying itself. Two F-35s stand by as reserve for this task. A training program with allies *is completed with the other four fighters. Of course, these can also be used immediately if the situation requires it.
The Netherlands was the second international partner to receive the F-35, and continues to serve as a key contributor to the production and sustainment of the F-35 Lightning II advanced fighter. The Dutch are making plans to add to their F-35 fleet to increase the nation’s capability and capacity to engage in allied operations. The first F-35 RNLAF squadron operates out of Leeuwarden Air Base. In the future, Volkel Air Base will also be home to F-35s. Every F-35 contains components manufactured by Dutch companies. Dutch industries are strategically positioned to participate in the production of more than 3,000 F-35 aircraft over the life of the program.
??F-35s carried out their first A-Scramble to intercept Russian SU-27s & a IL-20 flying close to #NATO airspace
Supported by ??Eurofighters they shadowed the ?? aircraft who were posing a danger to other air users by ignoring international air safety rules#SecuringTheSkies pic.twitter.com/6DbBCvLwPj
— NATO Air Command (@NATO_AIRCOM) February 14, 2023