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NATO bolsters enhanced air policing mission

Two of the F-16s that Denmark is contributing to NATO's enhanced air policing mission. (NATO Allied Air Command)

NATO has bolstered its enhanced air policing (eAP) mission, with nations providing additional aircraft as concerns over Russian military action in Ukraine grow.

The alliance announced on 26 January that US Air Force (USAF) Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles and Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons were being dispatched to Estonia and Lithuania respectively to supplement the current Baltic Air Policing mission.

β€œ[USAF] F-15s have landed at Amari Air Base, Estonia, [on 26 Janaury] and [RDAF] F-16s will arrive at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, [on 27 January] to bolster the forces already deployed under the long-established NATO Air Policing mission,” NATO Allied Air Command said. β€œDanish F-16s will arrive in Siauliai to work alongside the Polish F-16s that deployed there on 1 December 2021 to conduct Baltic Air Policing. The US F-15s landed at Amari to integrate with the current detachment of Belgian F-16s; both detachments will execute the enhanced Air Policing mission.”

Although NATO did not disclose the numbers of additional aircraft, images showed at least six USAF F-15Es and four RDAF F-16s to add to the four Polish Air Force F-16s and four Belgian Air Component F-16s. Also, although the USAF has deployed F-15s on numerous previous rotations to the Baltic and other air policing missions, these have until now all been flown using the F-15C fighter variant rather than the F-15E strike variant, and have mainly been drawn from the 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in the United Kingdom.

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