NATO extends enhanced Baltic air policing

NATO will continue its bulked-up Baltic air policing, sending a fresh rotation of fighters to both Estonia and Lithuania, after the current rotations end in early 2015, alliance officials announced.

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

Russian aggression in Ukraine prompted NATO to augment its alert mission with additional fighters in Lithuania and several new alert bases back in April. A detachment of Portuguese F-16s, buttressed by Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s, has been intercepting Russian aircraft from Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, since September.

German fighters are covering allied airspace from Ämari Air Base, Estonia, and Dutch F-16s are deployed to a third alert location at Malbork AB, Poland, according to allied officials.