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NATO jets in Baltics scrambled thrice last week over Russian aircraft

VILNIUS - NATO fighter-jets conducting the Baltic air-policing mission from Lithuania and Estonia were scrambled three times last week to intercept Russian military aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The Alliance's jets took off twice on Aug. 1: the first time to identify and escort two Russian IL- 20 planes flying from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad and the second time to intercept an IL-20 headed for mainland Russia.

The Russian aircraft had flight plans and kept radio contact with the regional air traffic control centre, but their onboard transponders were switched off.

An Il- 20 reconnaissance aircraft was intercepted on Aug. 18 en route from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia. The aircraft had a flight plan and kept radio contact with air traffic controllers, but its onboard transponder was off.

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