F-16s intercept Russian aircraft

This afternoon, 2 F-16s intercepted 2 Russian Tu-95 ‘Bear’ bombers. The Russians entered the Netherlands’ area of responsibility without identifying themselves. 

The Quick Reaction Alert comprises 2 fully-armed F-16s that are on stand-by 24 hours a day. Photo Netherlands Ministry of Defence

Tactical controllers at the Nieuw Milligen Air Operations Controls Station (AOCS) ordered the F-16s to take off from Volkel Airbase and approach the Bears for visual identification and to then escort them through the Netherlands’ area of responsibility. The F-16s subsequently escorted the Bears in cooperation with 2 German F-4 Phantoms.

British fighter takes over

The fighters escorted the Bears until they had left the area of responsibility and a British fighter had taken over escort duties. It is the second occasion within a short space of time that Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s have had to intercept unidentified aircraft. On 29 August, two F-16s from Volkel Airbase intercepted an Airbus from Malaga, Spain, after no radio contact could be made with the passenger aircraft. The aircraft later landed at Schiphol Airport under escort of the two F-16s. 

24 hours

For the defence of the Netherlands’ area of responsibility, the AOC and its F-16s are on stand-by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for this Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) task. If an unidentified aircraft is reported to be in Dutch airspace, the F-16s are capable of taking off and intercepting the aircraft within a few minutes.