March 21, 2013 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Royal Netherlands Air Force scrambled F-16s today to escort two Russian Tupolev Tu-95 'Bear' bombers over the North Sea. The jets were launched from Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) at Leeuwarden AB.
RNlAF F-16AM #J-624 from 313 sqn is returning to base after a QRA-mission with live weaponry on October 5th, 2005. [Photo by Mike Schoenmaker]
It is fairly common for Russian bombers to enter NATO
airspace without making any radio contact and as usual it was unclear what they were up to.
Standard procedures call for an escort of all non-NATO aircrat like these Bears. Initially German jet fighters flew along with them until they passed through an area in the North Sea for which the Netherlands
is responsible at which point they were handed over to the Dutch F-16s. Later on the British Air Force took over with two Typhoons.
was activated upon request of the Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen (AOCS NM). This happens whenever a plane flies in Dutch airspace without previously having filed a flight plan and without identifying themselves.
AOCS NM is the air traffic control center for all military air traffic in the Netherlands, as well as the center for Air Battle Management, Air Surveillance, Fighter and SAM
Control, and Alerting. It is using Dutch Mil as its callsign for air traffic control services, and Bandbox as a callsign for the military Control and Reporting Centre (CRC).
The previous interception of Tu-95 by Dutch F-16s dates from September 11th 2012.