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NATO steps up airborne patrols of Baltic Sea after subsea infrastructure damage

US Navy personnel crew the workstations of a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft of the type that NATO has likely committed to increased aerial patrols of the Baltic Sea. (US Navy)

NATO has increased its aerial surveillance of the Baltic Sea following a spate of incidents that have seen critical subsea infrastructure damaged.

The alliance announced on 19 October that it is strengthening airborne patrols, assigning additional airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the region.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely, and we remain in close contact with our allies Estonia and Finland, and our partner Sweden,” acting NATO spokesperson Dylan White said.

White did not disclose aircraft types or numbers, but the increased aerial surveillance will likely include the Boeing E-3A airborne warning And control system (AWACS), Boeing P-8A Poseidon, and Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Phoenix UAV assets, among others.

As noted by NATO, since the Nord Stream undersea pipeline sabotage in September 2022 it has stepped up enhanced patrols near critical undersea infrastructure, including with unmanned craft, to better detect any suspicious activity.

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