Five Allies deploy jets to NATO’s eastern flank for air policing

  • 29 Nov. 2023 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 29 Nov. 2023 17:27

Fighter jets from Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and Türkiye will take up NATO air policing duties on the Alliance’s eastern flank starting in December. The long-scheduled deployments demonstrate NATO Allies’ commitment to support each other and strengthen the Alliance’s collective defence.

“I welcome our Allies’ deployment of additional fighter jets to NATO’s air policing missions,” said acting NATO Spokesperson Dylan White. “These deployments are a demonstration of capability and resolve to protect our people and territories. In the wake of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, this is more important than ever. NATO air forces remain ready to respond to any threat from any direction.”

In the Black Sea region, four German Eurofighters will work alongside the Romanian Air Force as well as four Turkish F-16s to guard the skies over Romania. They are supported by a French “MAMBA” surface-based air defence system deployed at Capu Midia. In the Baltic region, four Belgian F-16s and four French Mirage 2000-5 jets will protect NATO airspace out of Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania, supported by four Polish F-16s flying out of Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Italy will continue its deployment of four F-35s to Malbork airbase in Poland into 2024.

In response to Russia’s full-fledged war against Ukraine, NATO has substantially reinforced its air defences in the eastern part of the Alliance, including with more fighter jets, surveillance flights and ground-based air defences. Russian jets often approach NATO airspace without using transponders, communicating with air traffic control or having filed filing a flight plan. Each year, NATO jets intercept, on average, several hundred Russian military jets near Allied airspace.