Turkey scrambles jets in NATO response to Russian overflights

Turkey, together with Norway, Britain, Belgium, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria, intercepted six groups of Russian military aircraft as part of a NATO mission, the alliance said on Tuesday.

Alliance jets scrambled 10 times during “an unusual peak of flights” near NATO airspace, according to the statement.

The exercise that took place on Monday “demonstrates NATO forces’ readiness and capability to guard Allied skies,” Brigadier Gen.Andrew Hansen said in a statement.

Turkish fighter jets tracked Russian aircraft over the Black Sea, together with Romanian and Bulgarian aircraft, until they left the area, according to the NATO statement.

The NATO air policing flights were launched from two Combined Air Operations Centres in Uedem, Germany and Torrejón, Spain.

NATO said Russian aircraft pose potential risks to civilian airliners as they don’t communicate with air traffic controllers, or file a flight plan, or transmit their position and altitude.

Earlier this month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed “serious concern” over Ankara’s territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean, purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems, and democratic rights in the country. Stoltenberg said Turkey was an extremely important ally in the previous week due to its geography.