Norway to rotate jet patrols into Baltic skies

As the Nordic countries announced jointly Friday their intention to beef up military defense security efforts in the Baltic and Arctic regions, Norway also said it would be sending F-16s to Siauliai airbase in Lithuania in May to join fellow NATO ally Italy in its fighter jet patrolling of the region’s skies as part of the national Baltic Air Police (BAP) rotations.

As newswire BNS learned from Lithuania’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Ieva Gulbiniene, four of Norway’s F-16s will join Italy’s current squadron of Eurofighter Typhoon jets, as Poland’s MiG-19 destroyers will have completed their three-month term backing up the Italian pilots in the BAP service.

Also changing guard at the Amaari airbase in Estonia will be Great Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoons replacing the currently serving Spanish contingent.

On their part, Belgian pilots will take up station at Poland’s Malborg airbase with their F-16s.

Up until last spring, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, NATO had been rotating its patrols since March of 2004. However in response to Russia’s increasing military aggressions, the number of planes in the BAP mission was increased and patrols were launched from the Polish and Estonian airbases as well.

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