F 16s to provide air support for Baltic states
Starting in September the Netherlands will provide four F 16s to patrol the Baltic states. The fighter jets will be responsible for monitoring the airspace above this eastern section of NATO territory, from a base in north-eastern Poland.
This offer, which will be formally made to NATO in late May, is in addition to previous contributions, such as aerial refuelling for AWACS aircraft and the minehunter which will take part in patrols and inspection missions in the Baltic Sea until the end of June. Because of the crisis in Ukraine, additional military assets are being deployed in order to reassure eastern allies that feel threatened. The Netherlands is a loyal ally, and these contributions will underscore solidarity between the members of the alliance.
From early September to the end of December 2014, the Netherlands will provide four F 16s to help police the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from a base outside the north-eastern Polish town of Malbork. The aircraft will no longer be operating solely from the Lithuanian air force base in Šiauliai, but also from Malbork and Ämari in Estonia. The F 16s will not just be deployed for the sole purpose of supporting eastern allies; they will also engage in exercises with the Polish air force and AWACS radar aircraft.
Baltic Air Policing
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania do not have their own fighter jets. Consequently, patrolling the airspace above the Baltic states falls to other NATO member states who take turns in providing fighters for this Baltic Air Policing mission.