Safe skies: NATO Air Policing – the Baltic States

Across Europe, NATO fighter jets are on duty around the clock, ready to scramble in case of suspicious or unannounced flights near the airspace of our Allies.

NATO calls this activity Air Policing, which has been an integral part of NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence for 60 years.

In this series, we’ll explore NATO’s five special air policing arrangements to ensure the integrity of NATO’s airspace and the defence of our almost one billion citizens. Welcome to the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Located on NATO’s eastern border, these countries don’t have fighter jets of their own, so other NATO Allies send rotating detachments of fighters to Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania and Ämari Air Base in Estonia to keep the Baltic skies secure.

Russian military aircraft that operate in the area often don’t respect international aviation rules, so Baltic Air Policing aircraft scramble to visually identify this unsafe air traffic. Footage includes shots of Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets taking off in Lithuania, and a shot of an Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon taking off in Estonia, as well as footage from Belgian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons when they intercepted Russian aircraft in April 2020.

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The NATO press office is based in Brussels.

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