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Netherlands Takes Over Baltic Air Policing Mission - Lithuanian Defense Ministry

Sputnik News

16:47 05.01.2017

French Air Force service personnel, who have patrolled the Baltic airspace for four months, have been replaced by the Netherlands Air Force with four Fighting Falcon F-16 fighters, according to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry.

VILNIUS (Sputnik) – The Dutch air force has taken over the Baltic Air Policing mission, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said Thursday.

"French Air Force service personnel, who have patrolled the Baltic airspace for four months, have been replaced by the Netherlands Air Force with four Fighting Falcon F-16 fighters," the ministry said in a statement.

Some 120 Dutch service personnel have been deployed in Lithuania to carry out the mission for the next four months, according to the statement.

The four Dutch F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighters landed at Lithuania's Siauliai airbase to take over the mission earlier in January. The patrols had been conducted by four French fighter jets Mirage 2000 since September 2016, while several German Eurofighter Typhoon jets are carrying out the mission from a base in Estonia.

The three Baltic states comprising Latvia, Estonia and neighboring Lithuania do not possess air patrol capabilities. Since joining NATO in 2004, the three Baltic countries' airspace has been defended by a rotating NATO mission.

NATO has recently decided to boost its presence in the region as part of its strategy to increase eastern flank capabilities during the last summit in Warsaw. The Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, Croatia and France pledged their troops to join a 1,000-strong battalion being formed in Lithuania under German leadership.

Sputnik



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