Portuguese F-16s Intercept Russian Aircraft Close to NATO Territory

Portuguese F-16 fighter jets participating in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing have escorted two Russian military aircraft flying close to the alliance’s airspace.

The F-16 planes scrambled from the Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem in western Germany for their first intercept during their seventh deployment to the mission.

During the mission, the Portuguese pilots confirmed that the Russian aircraft were operating without a flight plan and escorted them until they flew into Russia’s Kaliningrad Flight Information Region.

NATO described the incident as a “strong signal of Alliance vigilance and commitment,” showcasing the close cohesion of its members to maintain credible deterrence and defense.

Staying Vigilant

NATO has been guarding the Baltic region’s airspace for 20 years, deploying its fighter jets to Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania and corresponding with other air bases to bolster their security.

More members have recently participated in the alliance’s air policing missions due to security concerns over the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Last month, the German Air Force conducted the alliance’s first-ever scramble from Lielvarde Air Base in Latvia to escort two Russian planes flying by the Latvian Coast.

To date, 18 NATO members have taken on air policing missions in the Baltic, including Belgium, Spain, and France.

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