Air Force scrambles to intercept Russian planes over Baltic

Two Russian Antonovs did not violate Finnish air space, but at least one F-18 Hornet was sent to check them out anyway.

Russian Air Force Antonov AN-72, photographed above the Baltic Sea, 27th May 2019 / Credit: Finnish Air Force

The Finnish Air Force has scrambled to intercept two Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea.

The incident happened at 11:00 on Monday morning when the Antonov An-12 and Antonov An-72 transport aircraft were detected.

At least one F/A-18 Hornet on quick reaction duties was sent to investigate, although the planes did not violate Finnish air space.

For operational reasons, the Air Force won’t disclose which base the quick-reaction Hornet was launched from.

“The Air Force monitors and secures Finland’s territorial integrity. The monitoring of territorial integrity extends hundreds of kilometers beyond Finland’s borders. Tools for this purpose include mobile and fixed air surveillance radars and other sensors located across the country” Air Force Command’s Tuomas Saavalainen explained in January after a similar incident.

“If an airborne target is detected within or approaching Finnish airspace and cannot be identified by flight plan correlation using data from civilian air traffic control agencies or by other available information, the [Air Operations Command] may scramble a fighter to intercept and identify the traffic” Saavalainen told News Now Finland in January.

The F/A-18 Hornet pilot’s mission is to get close enough to determine the nationality and tail number of the planes, and prevent them from infringing Finnish airspace if necessary.

Russian Air Force Antonov AN-12 photographed above the Baltic Sea, 27th May 2019 / Credit: Finnish Air Force