A Dutch soldier stands guard as a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35 takes off at Graf Ignatievo airbase, Bulgaria.
Two Dutch F-35 fighters intercepted a formation of three Russian military aircraft near Poland and escorted them out, the Netherlands’ defence ministry said in a statement late on Monday.
“The then unknown aircraft approached the Polish NATO area of responsibility from Kaliningrad,” according to Reuters’ translation of the ministry’s statement.
Kaliningrad is a Russian Baltic coast enclave located between NATO and European Union members Poland and Lithuania.
“After identification, it turned out to be three aircraft: a Russian IL-20M Coot-A that was escorted by two Su-27 Flankers. The Dutch F-35s escorted the formation from a distance and handed over the escort to NATO partners.”
The Il-20M Coot-A is NATO’s reporting name for the Russian Ilyushin Il-20M reconnaissance aircraft while the Su-27 Flankers are NATO’s reporting name for the Sukhoi Su-28 fighter aircraft.
Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
The Netherlands’ defence ministry said that eight Dutch F-35s are stationed in Poland for February and March.