A Canadian CF-18 Hornet takes off from Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in Romania during Operation REASSURANCE on Sept. 7, 2018. NATO officials scrambled two Canadian Hornets to intercept a Russian Su-27 Flanker operating near the Romanian airspace on Sept. 23, 2020. (Cpl. Dominic Duchesne-Beaulieu/CAF)

Canadian CF-18s intercept Russian fighter jet near Romanian airspace

NATO officials scrambled a pair of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-18 Hornet fighter jets to intercept a Russian Su-27 Flanker operating near Romanian airspace over the Black Sea on Sept. 23, the Canadian military announced Friday.

The Canadian aircraft were scrambled by NATO’s southern Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejon, Spain after the Russian fighter jet was detected by the Romanian Air Force’s Control and Reporting Centre, the Canadian military said in a press release.

The Canadian fighter pilots carefully monitored their Russian counterpart until he left the Romanian flight information region, the military said.

The intercept happened in international airspace and there was no indication that the Russian aircraft breached Romania’s sovereign airspace.

This intercept was the first for the Canadian air task force which started its mission earlier this month following a NATO certification ceremony on Sept. 3, 2020.

The Canadian aircraft are deployed to Romania as part of Operation REASSURANCE, Canada’s contribution to the NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe. Air Task Force – Romania is the air component of the mission and is part of NATO’s enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission.

‘Morale is high’

A CF-18 Hornet from the Canadian Air Task Force Lithuania and a Portuguese F-16 Fighting Falcon perform manoeuvres over Lithuania on September 15, 2014 for the NATO Baltic Air Policing Block 36 (Cpl. Gabrielle DesRochers/ CAF)

“We achieved exactly what Canadian pilots from Air Task Force Romania are expected to do, which is to ensure the integrity of the airspace of our NATO ally, Romania,” said in a statement Lt.-Col. David McLeod, Commander of Air Task Force – Romania.

“Taxiing in after the intercept, the whole Air Task Force was energized. This is what we are here for and morale is high when we get to use our skills for such an important mission as enhanced Air Policing.”

During their mission in Romania, Canadian fighter pilots hold quick reaction alert and flight training missions together with the Romanian Air Force, as well as other regional allies, to augment Romanian air policing capabilities, according to the Canadian military.

The Russian military did not comment on the incident.

Russia is holding major military exercises on its southern flank, including in the Black Sea region, from Sept. 21 to 26.

The “Kavkaz-2020” (Caucasus-2020) wargames involve nearly 80,000 Russian soldiers, sailors and airmen, as well as troops from five other countries, including China and Pakistan.

It’s not clear whether the Russian Su-27 intercepted by Canadian air crews was operating as part of the exercise.

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