In recent years, the Russian Defense Ministry has regularly reported the interception of spy planes from NATO member countries in the vicinity of its airspace, be it in the Kaliningrad region [Baltique] or in the Black Sea. And sometimes this led to “muscular” interactions, questioning the behavior of Russian pilots, which the Pentagon deemed “dangerous and unprofessional” … but was “normal” for Moscow.
“If this causes depression or phobia in American pilots, we advise the American side to avoid flights near Russian borders or to return to the negotiating table to agree on a set of rules for such flights,” the Russian general staff joked February 2018, after several incidents.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, however, there seems to have been fewer such interactions…while air activity on Russia’s borders has evidently not decreased…However, in the fall, the most recent interception of a Royal Air Force RC-135 “riveted joint” [RAF] of two Su-27 flankers over the Black Sea almost ended in disaster after one of the Russian planes fired an air-to-air missile, due to a “technical incident,” according to Moscow. This later led to the British using Eurofighter Typhoon for these types of missions.
Be that as it may, these intelligence flights near Russian territory were mainly operated by American, British and French forces. [avec, pour ces dernieres, des Mirage 2000D équipés d’une nacelle ASTAC et des avions de patrouille maritime Atlantique 2, ndlr]. And, if I’m not mistaken, no interception of a German plane from Moscow has been reported so far. Now it’s done.
While German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht had just tendered her resignation after a spate of errors, the Russian Defense Ministry said a German Navy P-3C Orion patrol aircraft was ambushed by a Su-27 Flanker near the Kaliningrad enclave.
According to this source, the Su-27 escorted the German P-3C Orion “across the Baltic Sea” until it changed course. “The flight of the Russian fighter jet was carried out in strict compliance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters. […]without dangerous approach of an aircraft owned by a foreign state,” argued the Russian Defense Ministry.
The interception of the P-3C Orion was later confirmed by a German Navy spokesman, who specified that it took place during a “routine reconnaissance flight in international airspace off the coast of Kaliningrad.”
German naval aviation [Marineflieger] has eight P-3C Orions, acquired from the Netherlands in the 2000s to replace the Bréguet Atlantiques of Squadron 3 Graf Zeppelin. These anti-submarine devices are equipped with a radar, a laser range finder and MX-20HD infrared cameras. They will soon be taken out of service, Berlin has ordered five P-8A Poseidons to replace them.
It should also be noted that Germany has held the chair of the CBSS since July 1, 2022. “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has once again confirmed the security policy need for increased networking and the expansion of renewable energies in the Baltic Sea region. Indeed, it is about developing renewable energies and energy infrastructure in the region, not only to play an essential role in the fight against climate change, but also to make Europe more independent from supplies of Russian oil and gas. He also used this opportunity to explain German diplomacy.
© Koninklijke Luchtmacht/Japser Verolme