NATO air policing mission fighter jets, stationed in the Lithuanian northern city of Šiauliai, were on March 24 morning scrambled to accompany several Russian bombers and fighter jets flying over the Baltic Sea with their transponders switched off.
American F-15C Eagle during a drill above Lithuania
© DELFI (M.Bajarūnas)

Donatas Suchockis, the PR officer of the Joint Staff of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, told BNS NATO jets were scrambled at around 8 a.m. in response to a signal that four planes were flying from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad.

"Two Tu-22 bombers and two Su-27 fighter jets were identified. Their automatic transponders were switched off, they did not maintain radio communication and were flying without a pre-filled plan," Suchockis told BNS.

As Russia held large-scale military exercises in Kaliningrad last week, NATO fighter jets were scrambled eight times to accompany Russian aircraft. All in all, NATO jets were scrambled around 150 times last year.

NATO officials say Russian planes flying with switched-off transponders pose threat to civil aviation.

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