Portugal currently ‘Lead Nation’ in NATO policing of Baltic
In the space of just one month, two Portuguese F-16 fighter jets – operating on the limit of NATO’s airspace in the Baltic – have intercepted 20 Russian planes “violating rules of air traffic”.
According to the Portuguese Air Force, these interceptions involved “transport aircraft, fighter jets and intelligence gathering aircraft”. Interception procedures were initiated “to preserve the integrity of Baltic airspace”.
Fighter jets are activated whenever an aircraft flying over international airspace close to NATO borders fails to comply with air traffic rules, which include presenting their intended route, establishing communications with air traffic control entities, and / or sending a transponder signal.
Say reports, “these interceptions are a form of constant conflict between NATO and Russia over control of airspace in the region, having intensified since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine”.
Portugal’s Air Force assumed the policing of Baltic airspace on April 1, as so-called Lead Nation of the mission known as ‘Baltic Air Policing’.
Eighty five military and four F-16s are involved, and will remain so for the next three months, operating from the Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania.
Portugal currently has a total of 650 military on various NATO missions in eastern Europe. These include the crew of a naval frigate in the Baltic Sea, 146 marines also stationed in Lithuania, a P3 (maritime patrol) plane with 39 military in Italy, and 230 soldiers (army, navy and air force) in Romania.