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Belgium's F-16s already intercepted seven Russian aircraft in Baltic skies

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World Defense & Security News - Belgium
 
 
Belgium's F-16s already intercepted seven Russian aircraft in Baltic skies
 
The four Belgian Air Force's F-16 fighter jets deployed since Sept. 6 at Estonia's Ämari Air Base already intercepted seven Russian military aircraft, the BAF Chief of Operations Col. Jeroen Poesen said during a press briefing at the Belgian armed forces HQ.
     
Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office 640 001A Russian Navy Su-27UB escorted by a Belgian Air Force F-16 over the Baltic Sea, Sept. 6, 2017
(Credit: Belgian Air Force)
     

"We are now at seven alerts in two weeks," said Poesen. In comparaison, the previous Spanish rotation's fighter jets were scrambled 32 times over their four-month period.

According to the BAF, this renewed activity could be linked to the "Zapad 2017" exercise conducted by the Russian and Belarusian armies during the last week.

Within the Baltic Air Policing mission, the BAF's tasks involve the continuous presence – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – of fighter interceptor aircraft, which are ready to react quickly to airspace violations and infringements.

Allies have been taking turns in safeguarding the Baltic airspace since 2004 when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO.

Baltic Air Policing is a special mission in that Allies take turns deploying their jets to the region to provide an intercept capability to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as these members do not have their own fighter aircraft for such missions. At present the Baltic Air Policing mission is led by United States Air Force F-15C fighters deployed to Šiauliai, Lithuania, and the Belgian F-16AMs in Ämari, Estonia.