As we reported previously, Belgian F-16s have been deployed since September 5th in Estonia, with a view to protecting the air space of the Baltic states. They have already, in that time, conducted 16 interceptions of Russian aeroplanes. This is according to figures supplied on Tuesday during the visit of the Commander of the Belgian Air Component, Major General Frederik Vansina, to the Ämari Air Base (in Estonia).
The mission of the F-16s concludes at the end of this year. However from September 2018, Belgian fighters are due to resume their surveillance operations out of Lithuania.
The issue is that the Baltic states do not possess combat aeroplanes. Since joining NATO in 2004, other member states in the Alliance have, in turn, been meeting the requirements for the defence of the Baltic states’ air space.
Encountering Russian aeroplanes is common in the area. The latter were going to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Often Russian pilots cut off their transponder. This requires an interception in the air, so as to remotely identify the equipment made non-identifiable in such cases.