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Russian Air Force: Europe Airspace Encroachment Is 'Unusual'

Image: Russian Air Force: Europe Airspace Encroachment Is 'Unusual'
In this May 7, 2009 file photo, a Russian TU-160 strategic bomber, IL-78, and MIG-31 fighter jets fly over the Kremlin on Red Square in Moscow on during a rehearsal for the May 9 Victory Day parade celebrating the end of WWII. (Alexey Saznov/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 30 Oct 2014 05:40 PM

Nineteen Russian Air Force aircraft flew close to European airspace during two days this week, a show of force that NATO called the most provocative to occur this year.

NATO called the Russian bombers, fighter jets, and tanker aircraft an "unusual" number that came at a time when relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated since the Ukraine conflict.

The Russian forays near European air space came as far as Portugal, and although NATO intercepted Russian aircraft more than 100 times in 2014, the latest incidents have pushed the limit even further.

“We’re raising it as an unusual level of activity,” Lt. Col. Jay Janzen, a NATO spokesman, told The Washington Post. "The flights we’ve seen in the last 24 hours, the size of those flights and some of the flight plans are definitely unusual."

A U.S. defense official, speaking anonymously to the Post, said, "It’s concerning because it’s moving in the wrong direction. It’s not helping to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. It’s not helping to improve relations between NATO and Russia. It’s not helping anybody."

In a statement detailing the incidents, NATO said, “NATO detected and monitored four groups of Russian military aircraft conducting significant military maneuvers in European airspace over the Baltic Sea, North Sea/Atlantic Ocean, and Black Sea on 28 and 29 October 2014. These sizable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace.”

"Scrambles and intercepts are standard procedure when an unknown aircraft approaches Nato airspace," the statement said.

Talking about one specific incident, NATO also said, “The bomber and tanker aircraft from Russia did not file flight plans or maintain radio contact with civilian air traffic control authorities and they were not using on-board transponders. This poses a potential risk to civil aviation as civilian air traffic control cannot detect these aircraft or ensure there is no interference with civilian air traffic.”

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Nineteen Russian Air Force aircraft flew close to European airspace during two days this week, a show of force that NATO called the most provocative to occur this year.
russian, air, force, europe, unusual
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2014-40-30
Thursday, 30 Oct 2014 05:40 PM
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