Dutch F-16s were sent to interdict an unknown Russian fighter plane over the skies of Lithuania following a near-miss with a passenger jet that had taken off from Copenhagen, Denmark.
NATO said the Russian pilot had switched off his fighter plane’s transponder, which assists radar operators in identifying planes.
The F-16s flew out of Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania.
In a statement, NATO said that military aircraft that do not fly with transponders turned on risk colliding with passenger planes that otherwise cannot track them.
NATO said the Russian jet “did not comply with international standard aviation rules” required of all planes flying in and around its airspace.
“The NATO jets fly close to the unidentified plane and their transponder signal is picked up by the air controllers allowing them to take measures to prevent mishaps with civilian airliners,” said NATO in a statement.
The Russian fighter nearly collided with a passenger plane in the skies over Sweden.
“This is serious. This is inappropriate. This is outright dangerous when you turn off the transponder,” Peter Hultqvist, Sweden’s defense minister, said. [source]