BRUSSELS, April 14 (Reuters) – Military jets which fly over Europe without identifying themselves pose a high risk to civilian aircraft, aviation safety officials said in a report published on Tuesday, after a spate of near-collisions involving Russian warplanes.
The European Commission asked the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to investigate after recent reports of the near-misses between commercial airliners and Russian military planes flying without electronic identification.
Russian planes have stepped up patrols over Europe and NATO has responded by sending more fighters to police Baltic skies amid an increase in tensions sparked by the Ukraine crisis.
EASA’s report, released by the Commission, found that safety incidents involving civil and “non-cooperative” military aircraft over the high seas, particularly over the Baltic Sea, had significantly increased in 2014.
The EC isn’t naming names, but basically, the Russians aren’t cooperating with air traffic control. Mind you, it’s technically legal, and in international airspace. But it also increases, by a small fraction, the risk on a mid air collision. More importantly, from the Russian point of view, it’s just generally a pain in the ass for European air controllers, and air defense systems to monitor and ensure civil traffic is steered clear of Russian jets that are non-cooperative.
Moscow has been trolling NATO for a while now. They see a weak response, and continue to increase their level of harassment. I think slapping them moderately hard now would probably be better than them thinking they could ratchet up the tension a few more notches.