Things are getting a bit lively over the Baltic states, with NATO’s next round of air policing duty to be provided by not the usual one nation, but four.
Poland is the lead nation for the long-planned, four-month stint, but the traditional four-aircraft commitment – being made with MiG-29s – isn’t enough, due to the heightened tensions between NATO and Russia over the latter’s rather colonial activities in Ukraine.
Four Polish air force MiGs are now in place at Siauliai air base in Lithuania, where four Typhoon FGR4s from the Royal Air Force will also be standing quick reaction alert until the end of August. On top of that, the Royal Danish Air Force has four F-16s located further north, at Amari air base in Estonia. If needed to further bolster this, four French air force Rafales now at Poland’s air base in Malbork can also be called forward.
Those combined aircraft are taking over the “BAP” duty from an increased detachment of 10 F-15Cs from Lakenheath in the UK (US Air Force image above), which have been doing the job since 3 January.
Separate to the Baltic activity, Canada has also sent six CF-18s from its Bagotville air base to Romania, as part of the NATO response to Moscow’s muscle-flexing.
As activity on the ground in Ukraine forces up the rhetoric on all sides, let’s hope that cool and calm minds persist in the air; far away from the real flashpoint.