Belgian F-16s to carry out new NATO mission from Estonian base

Belgian F-16s to carry out new NATO mission from Estonian base
Belgian F-16s. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

As part of a military boost on NATO's eastern flank, six Belgian F-16s will participate in a NATO dissuasive mission until 4 November, and will be based from the Amari base in Estonia, reported De Morgen.

The goal of the mission is to dissuade and avoid aggression on the military's alliance's eastern borders. In total, Belgium will bring six F-16s to Estonia, with three from the Florennes air base and three from Kleine Brogel, as well as 97 military personnel, including operational, support and technical officers.

The majority of the Belgian unit left on Thursday from the Florennes air base,  and the rest of the unit left on Monday already.

NATO has increased its aviation capacity by boosting the number of planes on standby in eastern Europe. In addition to existing projects, a so-called 'enhanced Vigilance Activities' mission was added. To this end, the Belgian Council of Ministers approved sending off Belgian aircraft.

Avoid escalation

Allied fighters have intercepted Russian aircraft in the Baltic sea and in the high north operating near Allied airspace, according to NATO earlier this year, which suggests an increased presence is necessary.

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NATO's dissuasive mission aims to avoid escalation, deter hostile actions and show NATO unity. The F-16s will carry out training missions and conduct armed air and border controls, particularly along NATO's eastern region.

Belgian F-16s have already taken part in another NATO dissuasive mission, from April 1 to July 31. The aircraft had been stationed at the Estonian air base since December and was involved with air border controls in the airspace of the Baltic countries. The missions have evolved since April due to events in Ukraine.

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