In the east, F-15 fighters of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force intercepted and then shadowed a hulking Tupolev Tu-95 Bear bomber – not unlike the scene shown above – between the Korean peninsula and Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands. The turboprop then turned and flew over the Kuril Islands, IHS Jane's reports. Russia and Japan have been feuding over islands since the Soviet Union captured them near the end of World War II.
Over Europe, meanwhile, a group of four Russian aircraft – two Tu-22 Blinder supersonic bombers and a pair of Sukhoi Su-27 Flankers fighters – were caught flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea with their transponders switched off, which seems to be a safety issue, more than anything else. NATO dispatched Danish and Italian fighters stationed in Lithuania to intercept the four-ship flight.
"The Russian military aircraft did not use their onboard transponder; they were not in contact with civilian Air Traffic Control and they were not on a pre-filed flight plan," an anonymous NATO official told Military.com.
Sweden's foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, expressed her country's frustrations, calling Russia's actions "unacceptable."
"This has happened now on a number of occasions and in a very challenging way," Wallstrom told media in the country's capitol. "We are tired of always having to protest against this kind of...breach of rules."