TALLINN, Oct 02, BNS – Belgian F-16 fighter jets stationed at the Amari air base in northwestern Estonia as part of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission will perform training flights in Estonian airspace from Monday to Friday.
The aircraft are to fly over Estonia in areas of low-altitude flying, at an altitude of at least 152 meters and preferably away from populated areas, spokespeople for the Estonian defense forces told BNS.
NATO member states allocate specific areas of their air space for the training and exercises of the air force, including low-altitude flights. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also allocated specific regions of their air space for low-altitude flying. The flights are performed in agreement with the Estonian Civil Aviation Administration and Estonian Air Navigation Services.
By a decision of the North Atlantic Council, the air forces of NATO member states have been taking turns to perform the air policing mission in the air space of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since March 2004, when the three Baltic countries joined the NATO.
The Baltic air policing mission is part of the NATO Smart Defense concept, the aim of which is to save the resources of the member states of the alliance by contributing together to different capabilities.
A contingent of the Belgian Air Force took over the Baltic air policing duties performed out of Amari, Estonia on Sept. 5. At present the Baltic air policing mission is performed by U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets deployed to Siauliai, Lithuania, and Belgian F-16s at Amari, Estonia.