NATO jets were scrambled 10 times last week investigating Russian military flights in the Baltic region, regional daily Virumaa teataja (VT) reports.
The Russian planes had been flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, but had generally not met the standard international etiquette of having a functioning transponder squawking on a recognized frequency, filing pre-flight plan and maintaining contact with regional air traffic control, VT says (link in Estonian), citing the Lithuanian defense ministry.
NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission is based at Ämari, Estonia, and Šiauliai, Lithuania. The latter's proximity to the Kaliningrad exclave means that NATO jets based there frequently have to make flights as Russian planes traveling between Kaliningrad and the Russian 'mainland' cut the corner by flying close to Baltic States' airspace.
The mission has been in place since 2014 and continues to operate following Russia's invasion of Ukraine starting last month.
Belgium's air force (Luchtcomponent/Composante air) currently holds the Baltic Air Policing mission's baton, and its contingent, along with that in the region as a whole, has been augmented since the invasion by planes from both the United States Air Force (see cover image) and Britain's Royal Air Force.
Editor: Andrew Whyte