The recent explosions which hit the two Nord Stream gas pipelines has prompted an increased presence of NATO air forces in the Baltic Sea region, with Poland a key country, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Wednesday.
Developments have included the deployment of around a dozen Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighters (pictured), in Poland.
F-22 pilot Lt Col. Michael Kendall told ERR's Epp Ehand, who also got to see F-22s up close along with other journalists in a plane flying alongside, said: "They are very maneuverable jets, we get in a one-on-one engagement, it gives thus an advantage; we can do things in a close-in fight that other people can't' do with their airplanes, or they risk departing the jets – falling out of the sky.
"I wouldn't say unseeable, but it's harder to see than other platforms," Lt Col. Kendall added, referring to the plane's stealth design aspects.
The F-22s have been flying out of Lask air base, near Lodz, in central Poland, since mid-summer.
NATO Deputy Chief of Staff Plans Brig. Gen. Ömer Gülmezoglu (Turkey) said of the plane that: "Yes the F-22 and F-35 are fifth-generation high-capability fighters, but that's not all about that - it's a holistic approach and teamwork. We're good at it. The NATO public can rest assured that they're safe."
"We almost doubled the amount of patrol flights over that area, we doubled the presence of ships at sea, and our sensor intelligence units are also more focused on this area, because Infrastructure is a critical asset and is one of NATO's obligations to make sure that they're also safe too," he added.
Since the F-22s, which number around a dozen, are deployed as part of the bosltering of the alliance's Eastern Flank, they can easily fly to Estonian airspace on exercise when needed, while the inter-operability of many NATO allies involved and the creation of various deterrent capabilities enhance this also.
While various European nations have made steps towards additional contributions to air defense, the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines close to the Danish island of Bornholm have prompted NATO to take still further action in the Baltic Sea region, while Poland itself is also paying more attention to infrastructure security, AK reported.
The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft which entered into service around 25 years ago.
The Raptor's sister plane, the newer Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, has been deployed to Estonia several times.
The original AK report (in Estonian and English) is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera