According to NATO, two Russian fighter jets have approached ships of the alliance operating in the Baltic Sea in a dangerous maneuver. In the incident on Thursday, the aircraft flew past the naval association SNMG1 at a distance of only about 73 meters, said the responsible NATO headquarters in Northwood near London. The flight altitude was only 300 feet, which corresponds to about 91 meters. The pilots did not respond to attempts to make contact.
When asked by the German Press Agency, a spokeswoman said on Saturday that the aircraft were two-seater SU-24 tactical bombers with the NATO code name "Fencer" (German: Fechter). Accordingly, the Allies alarmed the quick readiness of their air force. The Russians would then have pursued planes until they had left the area again. The naval association SNMG1 was less than 50 kilometers from the Polish port city of Gdansk (Gdansk).
The spokeswoman did not say how the crew of the ships reacted to the approach of the aircraft and which units were involved. It would be conceivable, for example, that the fighter planes were even detected by a fire control radar in the meantime so that they could be shot down in an emergency. The spokeswoman said the Russian planes were probably not armed with missiles.
According to NATO, the maneuver was particularly risky because the Russian pilots were flying in an area that is considered a danger zone and is currently being used for anti-aircraft exercises by the alliance. The approach is therefore to be classified as "unsafe and unprofessional" and has increased the risk of miscalculations, errors and accidents, according to the headquarters in Northwood.