Transcript for NATO Fighter Planes Scramble to Intercept Russian Military Jets
I'm Michelle Franzen a new York and then usual amount of activity. From Russian planes today NATO says sits tracked eight Russian aircraft over the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Right now want to bring in ABC's Louis Martinez at the Pentagon Lillie. Good afternoon tell you what is going on here over the skies of Europe. There is a lot of than usual air activity in the part of the Russian air force Michelle taking part in multiple parts of Europe. He described the eight aircraft are being tracked from going through the Baltic or the North Sea and into the west Atlantic into the west of Portugal. Well there is further activity over the Baltic earlier today involving seven aircraft. And way to the south in the black seeds for other aircraft that are being tailed by different some forms of NATO aircraft in the southeast by Turkish aircraft. In the north it was by. German as well as Norwegian Portuguese fighters. And now ultimately we have Q of these fighters two of these bombers that made all the way to the west supporting a that are being tracked by. A British and a Norwegian aircraft it's it's quite a busy day very unusual to see this much activity on the part of the Russian air force. But also normal to see that NATO is patrolling the skies. Apparently there is a big safety issue here because Russian air military aircraft could not put on those transponders those of those stingers it identified themselves to other civilian aircraft. And they also don't like it filed civilian style. Flight plans so they kind of pose a danger to civilian aircraft of in the skies. That's why there's been so much interest on the part of British authorities to track these Q every meeting bombers that are good getting close to their British air's. It had busy airspace as you mentioned in two aircraft might be explained away as a mistake. But for separate incidents in different parts of Europe and a total of nineteen incidents intercepted just today this seems. Deliberate a deliberate tested and they don't. That fact that it say occurring in three different locations over the span of two days very. The labor and it would appear to be. I'm from making a layman here from Ireland but it also indicates. That Vick persistence of the Russian air force in conducting these kinds of activities on NATO providing information you have so far been a hundred intercepts this year. Russian aircraft throughout various parts of new air space that is three times the number that occurred. In last year so there's been a definite uptick in the number of aircraft you can kind of see a correlation potentially to the military activity that we've seen on the ground earliest in Crimea and of course in the Ukraine. You mentioned that they don't use the radio sort of contact they don't keep contacted flies civilian flight plans. Is that also common in here and in this case and how could that. Be so dangerous with a busy aircraft. Also up and there. Very dangers these are some of the most crowded skies in all of Europe so the potential here for danger is high. That's why the NATO Poland policing missions as they're called. Are always out there looking this year is any intrusion on the part of Russian aircraft. Now of course they're flying some of them are flying in international airspace. But the problem is that they don't put those transponders on which makes him a danger to civilian aircraft. That's one of the reasons why I NATO patrols the skies and to make sure that the Russian aircraft aren't doing it we should also point out and show that this happens as well. To him and the United States. The United States maintains an air defense IDs on the extends for about 200 miles. It's actually international waters. Any national airspace because he is the true international space from for the United States begin in other countries begins at twelve miles out. But frequently the only way. That would American military officials and NATO officials can be sure. That this is nothing more than just the prime training flight. Is to send aircraft entered into a visual ID and that's what's occurring in all of these cases involving NATO aircraft today visual identification and make sure that this is. A a training flight. And to get the message across that they should probably return. Back you the Russian airspace. It's still still seems a little bit like a cat and mouse games these numbers are astonishing I wanna go over them. Again eight aircraft in the North Sea alone today for in the Black Sea seven over the Baltic Sea nineteen in total as I mentioned not including. Seven intercepts yesterday. Catherine so what does Russia trying to say is this just all ramping up what we're hearing about this Cold War era again. And it's probably fits that profile on the show because there's been a lot of Russian air activity. Neared its by its neighbors and the last couple of weeks and the fact that NATO's saying that you know that there's been three times the level of Russian air activity or intercepts that they've had to conduct this you're just indicates itself right there that there is a ramp up in Russian air activity. On the face it appears that again this is Russia trying to exert itself. You know for decades now for almost twenty years they they. Did their military ways had declining budgets and everything and so that they really did not project their power but over the last couple of years. We've seen an increase in force projection not just on the part of the Russian air force but also the part of the Russian Navy. Earlier this year we had Russian vessels. Operating in the Caribbean for the first time in years so this isn't about part of an overall plan it appears on the part of the Russian military the Russian government. To show that its military is still a viable force and that it can project itself internationally. No longer the ground force that it was mainly for the last twenty years said. So Louis we've we've heard that this happens regularly not to this level but get an idea of what type of aircraft that they're also encountering on these intercepts. This is a very interesting makes an aircraft which overseeing the that the aid aircraft you're talking about involved wore long range bombers as well as for refueling tankers. So use those tankers to Golan range in the fact that these aircraft went all the way. A from Russian airspace to the off the coast of Portugal indicates to you that this was a complex mission. That the aircraft that we're down in. In the backseat as well involved refueling tankers because those are along mission. And then two days worth of air activity over the politics he involving a mix of those seven each day seven. Fighter aircraft different types kind of operating in complex when yours obviously it did what a fighter training I guess is what they're trying to do. But they're trying to show that they have a capability for long range bombers that they had a capability for strike aircraft which is what fighters can do. And again the refueling. Which could shows that they can project for long vast distances. So I guess there's a message is trying to be sent here with all of this air active activity. Particularly in concentrated over the last two days. And so we've heard from NATO on the details itself but have we heard anything from the Pentagon the White House or even European leaders at this point. Before we went on the heroin or talked to some pentagon officials see their return by this that they noted that this was an usual air activity on the part of the Russians for share. But they felt confident that NATO well wouldn't. Monitoring the situation. Appropriately. Because. Remember this is a lot Lawton an alliance the United States is a member of this alliance. And so we do contribute aircraft on occasion for these air policing missions but as of right now it is their rotations that are in place and the countries that are involved. The United States is in not a part of that rotation right now so it is a little bit of a step back in the sense that it's dozens into doesn't involve American aircraft directly. There's not that much concern since this is a NATO operation it's interesting to see how will Mayo is cooperating collaborating. The of multiple countries providing aircraft. As these aircraft have been flying progressively and honor members of NATO right. Joining. Do you escorts and these Russian manned aircraft that they were flying over that the North Sea so it's a net cooperation and not just of NATO but non NATO countries and in Northern Europe as well. Who obviously are concerned whenever there's such. This level of Russian air activity. International airspace. Certainly NATO on alert Lee Martinez that the Pentagon thanks for shedding some light on this. You can keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news app and star in this story for exclusive updates on the go for now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.