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NATO shores up enhanced air policing mission

A pair of USAF F-35As arrive in Romania on 24 February as part of a wider shoring up of the NATO eAP mission. (US Air Force)

NATO members are to immediately increase the number of aircraft committed to the alliance's enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission following Russia's further invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

With the current already reinforced eAP mission comprising combat aircraft from Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Germany has announced that it is to immediately send aircraft, while the US has sent additional aircraft of its own.

NATO operates several air policing missions within its wider eAP construct, with the Baltic and Southern Air Policing missions being the two chief efforts geared at countering Russia in the east and the Icelandic mission doing the same in the north.

The Baltic mission comprises four Polish Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons, four Belgian Air Component F-16s, four Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) F-16s, and six US Air Force (USAF) Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles operating out of Lithuania and Estonia. The USAF has now also forward deployed a number of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters that had recently arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.

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