Last Thursday the first incident this year, which involved the Russian Air Force, took place over the Baltic sea. Polish MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, acting within the scope of the Baltic Air Policing operation, have intercepted an Il-78 Midas aircraft, which approached the airspace of the Baltic states.
This has been a routine mission, considering the experience collected throughout the last couple of months, event, which, symbolically, has interrupted a peaceful period over the Baltic Sea which has been seen lately. Throughout the last months of 2014, the fighters which have been operating as a part of the Baltic Air Policing operation, but also aircraft which protected the airspaces of Finland, Sweden or Norway, were being scrambled practically on a daily basis, in order to intercept unidentified objects.
Usually the pilots encountered fighters, bombers and other aircraft of the Russian Air Force. No earlier information related to the flights had been provided, and transponders were usually turned off, which made identification of the intruders impossible.
Over 120 incidents such as the one above took place in 2014. In the period between November and December, such intrusions happened almost on a daily basis. In comparison, throughout the whole 2013 47 incidents involving the Russian Air Force had happened. Beginning of the January this year has been, unusually, peaceful so far.
Interception of the Russian Il-78 Midas tanker by the Polish MiGs has been the first intervention carried out by the fighters involved in the Baltic Air Policing operation, starting from 22nd December 2014. Nevertheless, it is hard to assess, whether this is the end of the Russian “show-of-force” policy in the northern Europe, or whether it was solely a peaceful period caused by holidays and the New Year’s eve.