A MYSTERY plane has crossed six NATO countries and activated a swarm of jets before the pilot 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.
Any of those countries, except Serbia is a member of NATO.
The mysterious plane is said to have taken off from Lithuania and landed at an abandoned airport in Targovishte, Bulgaria, according to media outlet Euractiv.
Fighter aircraft, including USAF F-16s, two Romanian F-16s and two Hungarian Gripens, were scrambled and tracked the 60-year-old two-seater’s journey after it failed to respond to radio broadcasts.
The small Beechcraft plane reportedly landed at a small airport in Debrecen, Hungary, where a group of people got off to refuel before taking off again, narrowly escaping police.
Bulgarian authorities have launched an investigation into what happened after the pilot and crew disappeared after landing at Targovishte Airport, with the plane’s engine still warm, according to reports.
The airport has been left unused for years and is now reportedly used for agricultural purposes, reports say.
Dragomir Zakov, an official of the Bulgarian Defense Ministry, said the plane entered his country’s airspace on the evening of June 8.
He is said to have said: “At no time did the aircraft pose a threat to civilian or military infrastructure in Bulgaria.
“It was flying at a low altitude, which made interception difficult for fighter jets, but it was monitored all the time.
“The Department of Defense is taking the necessary steps to determine the circumstances.”
It comes a matter of weeks after NATO scrambled its fighter 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’ near their airspace on 27 May.
Tensions between Russia and the Scandinavian countries have skyrocketed since Finland and Sweden infuriated Vladimir Putin by requesting to join NATO on May 18 — nearly doubling Russia’s border with their feared nemesis overnight .
The Russian warplanes were intercepted over the Norwegian Sea by two NATO F-35 jets before retreating east, the air force said.
The jets were sighted outside of Finnmark, in the far north of 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 called the Quick Reaction Alert for NATO.
“In 15 minutes they should be on the air and always ready. It’s 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Gaasland told Norwegian TV 2 Nyhetene.
The intrusion into Norwegian airspace could have provoked a “more aggressive action,” Gaasland said.
Asked if the raids posed a threat to Norway, she said: “I’m not saying that because we’re used to it happening and there’s nothing illegal about it.
“We pay a lot of attention to all activities in our local areas.”
About 58 similar identifications led to 34 scrambling last year, the Norwegian Armed Forces said.