Belgian NATO F-16s conducting low altitude flights this week
Belgian F-16 Fighting Falcon jets based at Ämari Air Base are to will perform low-altitude training flights in Estonian airspace from Tuesday through to Friday.
Two U.S.-made F-16s will make overflights in areas specially designated for low-altitude flying, not lower than 152 meters, BNS reports.
The jets are in Estonia as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, having taken on the role less than a week ago.
The low-altitude flights will take across much of the southern half of the country, between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. each day and, while their flight path may take them over smaller settlements or individual farms, the intention is to avoid populated areas where possible.
NATO member states allocate specific areas of their airspace for the training and exercises of member states' air forces, including with low-altitude flights.
Estonia, along with Latvia and Lithuania, have also allocated specific regions of their air space for the purpose.
The flights are performed in conformity with Estonian law and in agreement with the relevant civilian authorities, namely the Estonian Transport Administration (Transpordiamet) and Estonian Air Navigation Services (Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS).
The Baltic air policing mission is part of NATO's Smart Defense concept, which aims to conserve member states' resources by pooling them for various capabilities.
The Belgian air force, more properly known as the Air Component (Luchtcomponent/Composante air) took over the mission at Ämari from the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare) at the beginning of this month.
This is the third tour the Air Component has taken part in at Ämari in recent years.
The NATO Baltic Air Policing mission is also based at Šiauliai, Lithuania.
With just the one engine the low-flying General Dynamics F-16 multi-role fighters are not likely to be as noisy as their twin-engined counterpart, the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, which has also made plenty of flights in Estonian airspace in recent times.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte