A MYSTERY plane traversed six NATO countries, unleashing a swarm of jets before the pilot’s gung-ho landed and disappeared.
The suspected two-seater was spotted by Hungarian and Romanian air forces flying through their airspace and over Poland, Slovakia and Serbia before landing in Bulgaria.
Each of these countries except Serbia is a NATO member.
According to media outlet Euractiv, the mysterious plane took off from Lithuania and landed at an abandoned airfield in Targovishte, Bulgaria.
Fighter jets, including USAF F-16s, two Romanian F-16s and two Hungarian Gripens, were scrambling to track the 60-year-old two-seater’s journey after it failed to respond to radio transmissions.
The small Beechcraft plane reportedly landed at a small airport in Debrecen, Hungary, where a group of people disembarked to refuel before taking off again, narrowly escaping police.
Bulgarian authorities have reportedly launched an investigation into what happened after the pilot and crew disappeared after landing at Targovishte Airport while the plane’s engine was still warm.
The airport was left unused for years and is reportedly now being used for agricultural purposes.
Bulgarian Defense Ministry official Dragomir Zakov said the plane entered his country’s airspace on the evening of June 8.
He is said to have said: “The aircraft was never a threat to civil or military infrastructure in Bulgaria.
“It flew at low altitudes, which made interception difficult for fighter jets, but it was monitored at all times.
“The Department of Defense is taking the appropriate steps to determine the circumstances.”
It’s just a matter of weeks after NATO scrambles its jets to intercept two Russian planes near Finland’s border with Norway amid heightened tensions in the region.
The Norwegian Air Force intercepted a Mikoyan MiG-31 “Foxhound” and a Sukhoi Su-24 “Fencer” jet near their airspace on May 27.
Tensions between Russia and the Nordic countries have skyrocketed since Finland and Sweden enraged Vladimir Putin by bidding to join NATO on May 18 – nearly doubling Russia’s border with their feared nemesis overnight.
The Russian fighter jets were intercepted by two NATO F-35 jets over the Norwegian Sea before retreating east, the Air Force said.
The jets were observed outside of Finnmark in far north Norway, but were never in official Norwegian airspace.
Stine Barclay Gaasland, communications manager at the Norwegian Air Force, said two F35s are always on standby, in what is known as NATO’s Quick Reaction Alert.
“They have to be airborne in 15 minutes and be ready at any moment. That’s 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Gaasland told Norwegian broadcaster TV 2 Nyhetene.
The intrusion into Norwegian airspace could have provoked “more aggressive action,” Gaasland said.
When asked if the raids posed a threat to Norway, she said: “I don’t want to say that because we’re used to it happening and there’s nothing illegal about it.
“We are paying close attention to all activity in our local areas.”
About 58 similar identifications led to 34 confusions last year, the Norwegian Armed Forces said.
The Nordic countries submitted their application jointly, saying they were spurred on by Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5573279/mystery-plane-crosses-six-nato-countries-triggers-army-jets/ The mysterious plane transited through six NATO countries and triggered army jets before the pilot disappeared