On April 7, 2023, two Romanian Air Force (RoAF) F-16 fighter jets from NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission launched to identify and escort two Russian Suhoi Su-27 Flanker fighters. Six days after taking over the augmenting role for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, two Romanian F-16 fighter jets were scrambled by Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany, for the first time to respond to an air incident in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.
“The successful completion of the first scramble task within the enhanced Air Policing mission in the Baltic States confirms the high level of readiness of the “Carpathian Vipers” detachment to safeguard skies and the ability of the Romanian Air Force to deploy and use our F-16 aircraft in NATO missions,” said the commander of the F-16 detachment, Colonel Cosmin Vlad.
A formation of two unidentified aircraft was detected flying over international waters within NATO area of responsibility. The aircraft did not communicate their identity and were not in contact with civilian Air Traffic Control agencies. In line with the Alliance`’s standard procedures, the Romanian Air Force (RoAF) F-16 fighter jets were scrambled and subsequently identified two Russian Air Force Suhoi Su-27 Flanker jets.
After conducting the intercept and identification manoeuvre in professional manner, the NATO jets safely escorted the Russian aircraft and returned to Šiauliai Air Base. Together with a Portuguese F-16 detachment, the Romanian Air Force are flying Air Policing sorties securing the NATO skies above Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania under the collective Baltic Air Policing mission. Both detachments took over the 62 rotation of Allied fighters executing this mission on April 1, 2023.