The Finnish Border Guard says its investigation has confirmed that a Russian Air Force transport plane violated Finnish airspace for nearly a minute on 26 June.
Border authorities said on Thursday that the Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft was in Finnish airspace for 53 seconds, penetrating 1.15 kilometres into Finnish territory. The Finnish Air Force sent Hornet fighter jets to identify the intruder.
No response from pilot
Before entering Finnish territory, the strategic airlifter flew west from Russia through international airspace. A transmitter onboard the plane reporting its location was on. Finnish officials notified the plane’s pilot by radio of its impending encroachment before the violation took place. The plane was then asked to leave Finnish airspace, but did not respond.
The Border Guard says that the violation was undeniable, but that the reason for it remains unclear. It adds that there were no weather or other conditions that would have forced the plane to fly into Finnish territory.
Russian planes are believed to have breached Finnish airspace five times last year, beginning in May. There has also been an increase in sightings of Russian submarines and military vessels near the Finnish coast. Moscow has failed to provide any explanations for the incidents.