NATO to extend enhanced air patrols

Take note – story published 9 years ago

In a move that will surprise no-one given increased Russian military activity over Baltic skies, NATO has confirmed that its enhanced air patrol regime over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will be extended, Estonia's ERR News reported Thursday..

Having consisted of just a handful of planes in previous years, since the start of Ukraine crisis, NATO has ramped up its presence.

In May the number of planes participating in Baltic air policing increased from 2 to 12 with fighter-intercept aircraft formations from three different NATO member states stationed at the Šiauliai base in Lithuania and the Ämari base in Estonia, with further support given from the Malbork base in Poland.

“Today’s Baltic air policing mission requires both high readiness and interoperability,” NATO air command chief, US Air Force General Frank Gorenc said, according to ERR.

In recent weeks NATO's air policing mission has intercepted and identified Russian military planes skirting NATO airspace with increasing frequency, taking off for intercept missions more than 30 times since the beginning of September.

"NATO has improved its airspace defense capabilities, and we will continue to improve them in the future," said Gen. Frank Gorenc, Allied Air Forces Command in a NATO release on Novermber 12. 

"NATO's operation over Baltic airspace requires high readiness and excellent compatibility," he said.

"NATO patrol aircraft are ready twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week to intercept any unauthorized aircraft approaching NATO airspace". 

On October 29 NATO said four separate groups of Russian planes were engaged in "significant military maneuvers" in European airspace.

Russian military planes invariably ignore requests to identify themselves, thus posing a serious threat to civil airliners.

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