The plane of the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu , was returning from Kaliningrad to Moscow accompanied by two Russian Su-27 planes when flying over the international airspace over the Baltic Sea a Spanish F-18 NATO approached and placed in parallel to the device until it took a turn to move away after one of the Su-27 was placed in between and pulled away .
The tense encounter between the NATO fighter and the Russian airplanes has caused the denunciation of the Russian Government before the maneuver, the explanations of NATO and the silence of the Spanish Ministry of Defense, which delegates any explanation to the Atlantic Alliance , since the F-18 involved is one of the five Spanish fighter planes deployed in Lithuania as part of a NATO operation to protect the airspace of the Baltic countries with a constant 15-minute activation status .
NATO's explanation has been very clear: several fighters were deployed to identify the two Russian planes flying "near" the Allied airspace in the Baltic Sea. "A Russian plane, escorted by at least one Russian fighter plane, was tracked over the Baltic Sea," NATO sources said.
As they explained, NATO air patrol mission fighters in the Baltic "were sent to identify the plane flying near the allied airspace . " "Once the identification of the plane had taken place, NATO fighters returned to their base," they said.
However, Russia insists that Russian Su-27 fighters intercepted an NATO F-18 that attempted to approach the plane where the Defense Minister was traveling. In fact, passengers from the plane in which the minister was going recorded a video from inside that shows how Russian fighters force the F-18 to get away from Shoigu's plane .
In the images , the Spanish insignia can apparently be distinguished when the NATO plane performs the maneuver away.
The incident is the second of its kind in which a plane in which Shoigu travels is involved, since in June 2017 an NATO F-16 was also removed from the device by a Su-27 from his escort.
From the Spanish Ministry of Defense they have assured that they follow "with attention all the activity of the Spanish airplanes that operate as air surveillance in the Baltic under the control of NATO", although they send the information to the Alliance as responsible for the mission. According to the sources, the department that runs Margarita Robles has "all the data" of what happened , "but being a NATO maneuver, it is she who must report these issues."
Spain has five F-18 fighter planes of the Air Force deployed since last May 2 at the base of Siauliau, in Lithuania.
It is the fifth consecutive year that the Spanish Air Force participates in this NATO mission that began in 2004 and has the objective of monitoring and controlling the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
On this occasion, Wing 12, based in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid), has been chosen to serve as part of the Vilkas detachment from May 1 to August 31.
In total, the Vilkas detachment is made up of 140 people from different units of the Air Force , but Wing 12 provides the bulk of the contingent, 94 troops. The rest comes from the Air Deployment Support Squadron (EADA), the Air Deployment Support Medical Unit (UMAAD) Zaragoza, the Mobile Air Control Group (GRUMOCA), the Information Technology Management Center (CIGES) and the Directorate of Economic Affairs (DAE).
The five F-18s of Wing 12 patrol the airspace by sharing the base of Siauliau with the Hungarian Air Force , which has five Gripen planes deployed and acts as a leading nation with a constant 15-minute activation status .
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