Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish fighter jets escorted two Russian Tu-22 supersonic bombers and their Su-27 fighter escorts over the Black Sea on Tuesday, as they had flown close to NATO air space, the NATO Allied Air Command announced on its Facebook page.
First, two MiG-21 jets of the Romanian Air Force took off, as two Russian Tu-22 bombers, escorted by two Su-27 fighters, were heading towards Romanian airspace. The MiG-21s did not approach the Russian aircraft but shadowed them as they headed south several miles off the coastline.
As they continued their flight close to NATO airspace, MiG-29 fighter jets of the Bulgarian Air Force also took off, patrolling at a distance of several miles from the Russian planes. Later, the Russian aircraft turned east, towards Turkish airspace. Turkish Air Force – TUAF F-16 fighters – were then scrambled twice to shadow the Russians along the southern coast of the Black Sea before turning north.
The four Russian military aircraft at no point entered NATO airspace, but they did enter the zone within which NATO can ask for their identification, Constantin Spinu, spokesman of the Romanian Defense Ministry said.
“NATO stands determined to safeguard its airspace and sent a clear signal of its ability to react. Across the Alliance, Quick Reaction Alert fighter jets are on 24/7 standby for take-off in case of unclear situations in or close to its airspace,” the Allied Air Command wrote.
Title image: MiG-21 fighter jets of the Romanian Air Force. (Romanian Air Force Command/Bogdan Pantelimon)