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NATO Says 8 Aircraft 'Currently Sufficient' to Protect Baltic Airspace

Sputnik News

01:53 05.08.2015(updated 14:46 05.08.2015)

NATO estimates that reducing its air patrols over the Baltic states in half would be appropriate for the current level of threat, a NATO official told Sputnik on Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik), Alexander Mosesov – On Monday, NATO announced its plans to halve the number of military aircraft it had allocated to the Baltic Air Policing Mission. The program is aimed at helping Baltic NATO members Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia improve their capability, readiness, and responsiveness to deter against aggressors in the region.

'We currently have sixteen [aircraft], which is above the military requirement. NATO's military authorities assess that eight aircraft is currently sufficient to protect Baltic airspace. Our military commanders assess that this posture is appropriate and adequate. This is still double the number we had before the start of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.'

Since March 2004, when the Baltic States joined NATO, the round-the-clock mission to police the airspace of the Baltic States has been conducted on a three to four-month rotation basis from Lithuania's First Air Base in Zokniai, near the northern city of Siauliai.

A usual deployment consists of four fighter aircraft and between 50 and 100 support personnel.

NATO has been strengthening its military presence along Russia's western border amid the Ukrainian crisis, which the alliance claims Russia is involved in.

Moscow has repeatedly denied playing a role in the Ukraine crisis and has condemned build-up of NATO forces along its borders.


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