Russian military aircraft with their transponders turned off have had several close calls with civilian planes
Two Russian bombers, flying with their transponders turned off to avoid detection, swooped so close to the Irish coast that Dublin’s control tower delayed the takeoff of one passenger plane and ordered another to alter its route to steer clear of the bombers. The Feb. 18 incident, disclosed last week by the Irish government, was only the latest in an alarming series of close calls with Russian warplanes in the skies over Europe.
In December, a Russian military intelligence plane nearly collided with an SAS passenger jet over southern Sweden, according to the Swedish air force chief. Earlier in the year, a Russian plane flew close to another SAS jet that had just taken off from Copenhagen. Russia has denied that its aircraft were dangerously close to either plane.
Over the past year, Russian military aircraft have probed and sometimes violated the borders of European nations’ airspace more than 100 times, according to NATO. In most of these instances the Russians have turned off their transponders, electronic devices that commercial jets are required to use to make it easy to track them. Operating without the devices, known as “flying dark,” poses a serious risk to civilian air traffic, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference in December.
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