Last week, Belgian Air Force F-16 fighter jets leading NATO’s Baltic Air Policing from Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania had their first scramble over the Baltic Sea.

NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem in Germany directed the Belgian jets to visually identify several aircraft close to Allied airspace. The aircraft identified were two Russian Tu-160 bombers with fighter escorts flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

Neither the Russian bombers nor the fighters were on a flight plan or in contact with civilian Air Traffic Control or transmitted their identification code.

As the Russian aircraft continued their flight, Danish Royal Air Force jets currently assigned to NATO also tracked the aircraft.

Allied jets are on 24/7 standby to respond to any unidentified aircraft flying close to Allied airspace. Since 2004, NATO Allies have been taking turns to deploy their fighter aircraft to police and safeguard the skies over the Baltic Sea region.

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